Niagara Gazette

Local News

January 23, 2014

Cuomo's budget comes with 0.5 percent decrease in state aid for Niagara-Wheatfield

Niagara Gazette — WHEATFIELD — Current projections from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2014-15 executive budget are worse than originally expected for Niagara-Wheatfield School District residents.

The financially struggling school district, like many in Niagara County, would actually see a decrease in school aid in the preliminary state spending plan released Tuesday.

Cuomo’s proposal would see a 0.5 percent decrease in funding for Niagara-Wheatfield itself, compared to the current year’s budget adopted last spring. It’s a figure flying in the face of what many are hearing coming from the governor’s lips as he addresses his plan.

“I’ve heard (Gov. Cuomo) talk about an increase in education spending,” Niagara-Wheatfield School Board President Steve Sabo said. “That’s not school aid. There’s a difference.”

Originally, the district projected a 2.3 percent increase in state aid Tuesday under Cuomo’s plan. But the figure compared the executive budget for next fiscal year to the same offering this past year.

When the proposal is compared to the actual, adopted spending plan voted on by the state legislature, Niagara-Wheatfield went from receiving $23.2 million to a $23.1 million.

Cuomo’s budget, which serves as a starting point for lawmakers in Albany to work from, proposed a 3.8 percent increase in spending on educational matters, including major funding for universal implementation of pre-kindergarten across the state and performance pay for teachers based first laid out in the State of the State address earlier this month.

But the proposal also continues to include an item that’s become the bane of almost every school district across the state and definitely in Western New York. The Gap Elimination Adjustment, or GEA, continues to draw state aid from school districts.

Sabo said the budget decision originally made by Gov. David Paterson following the housing market recession and Wall Street crisis in 2007 significantly harms Niagara-Wheatfield and should be eliminated immediately.

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