February 11, 2011

The uneven effect of cuts and caps

I still need to sit down and look at what Governor Cuomo has proposed in his budget - though it will help when all the pieces are there. In general, I think New York State has substantial duplication and waste in its government, and mandating counties to provide services that turn them mostly into local offices of state government doesn't help. Unfortunately, though, neither the completely broken collection of people we call a legislature nor decades of past governors have shown much sign of figuring out how to improve efficiency without just slashing at services and often making things even more expensive.

I'm glad that the Governor is talking about shared sacrifice, but then I look at some of the details and wonder just how many nightmares lurk under the surface of his rhetoric. Albany seems to look everywhere except in Albany for substantial cost reductions.

Dryden Daily KAZ has done a much better job than I have at keeping up with the story, noting the governor's call for suggestions to reduce mandates, and writing a (so far) four-part series on the budget (1 2 3 4).

The last piece makes an especially important point:

Because Angie's school depends less on state aid, cuts in the governor's 2011-12 budget affect her far less than they do Ben, even though the percent cut to her district is greater. Angie's district will lose 10.89 percent of its aid, for a total of $205,940. Ben's district will lose 6.59 percent of its aid--for a total of $1,113,612.

The governor's proposed tax cap will affect the two teens differently, as well. Ben's district may only raise its levy by $292,184 before hitting the cap. That equates to a maximum spending increase of about $162 per student. Angie's district may raise its levy by $495,363, for a maximum spending increase of around $274 per student (more than enough to make up the difference in lost state aid).

I already knew it was going to be an ugly year, but fear this conclusion is all too accurate:

New York State cannot afford to fund its schools. Ben's community cannot afford to make up the difference--even if there were no tax cap, and they were allowed to do so. In these worst of times, don't be fooled into believing that the budget cuts are "across the board." Under the current proposal, the rich stay rich, and upstate kids lose again.

Posted by simon at February 11, 2011 5:43 PM in ,
Note on photos