Do you believe schools are equitably funded statewide? Please explain why and, if not, how would you address the issue?
Fortunately over the past few years we were able to reduce and finally eliminate the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) which significantly increased education aid to school districts. While this will provide more education aid to school districts throughout the state it does not do enough for more of the high needs districts. This is where I believe we should examine changing the aid formula to ensure that more aid goes to the districts that need it the most. Having said that, ensuring our schools throughout the Capital Region receive the aid they deserve has been and will remain one of my top priorities.[/quote]
No, they are not. But we need to look at the funding and where it is going. You don’t see investment in quality books, equipment and facilities. Often, there are 6 figure administrative salaries while teachers are at the low end. With the institution of common core and the pressure applied to teachers further—by the standards (which I support higher standards) and the focus on testing (there is way too much testing emphasis)—our teachers have gone from educating, to what seems like programming; that is, teaching a test, not teaching critical thinking. This relates to funding as there is the threat that was posed of cutting funding by federal government to states that didn’t get on board with common core. That is wrong. It needs to be reworked. Tying teacher evaluations to testing was wrong. The rollout was a mess. Instead to focusing on a major paradigm shift like common core, we should be focusing on how to best spend our education dollars. Look at the money being spent. And yet, we are still in the middle of the pack for graduation rates. As after school programs, music and arts get cut, the administrators continue to rake in the dollars. This is wrong. Without these vital programs children lose interest. There is a strong correlation between involvement in school activities and academic achievement. So, as we consider the efficiency of the funding formulary across the state, we should also strongly consider where that money is going.[/quote]
No, because we are still largely property tax dependent so wealthier areas continue to be able to fund education to an extent not possible in less affluent areas. The Foundation Aid formula is designed to redress this disparity. I support fully funding the Foundation Aid formula (though the formula itself may need some revisions to assure funding goes where it is needed).[/quote]
Ten years ago the Foundation Aid Formula was modified in response to the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit, which brought focus the flaws in how school funding was calculated. The gradual increases that were supposed to happen until the Foundation Aid Formula was fully funded was disrupted in 2008 by the recession . At this stage, not only were the increases frozen, but billion were cut in the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) was also instituted to help NYS balance its budget.
I am proud that in the 2016-17 Budget we were able to fully eliminate the GEA and make historic increases in Foundation Aid. However, the Foundation Aid Formula is still not fully funded. Of the four school districts that have the majority of their district in the 109th Assembly District, all four do not have their full Foundation Aid funding.
The first step is to make sure we are funding our schools according to the formula we have. There has also been a growing discussion of looking at the Foundation Aid Formula again and ensuring it is equitable. I fully support a deeper look into the current Foundation Aid formula to ensure our schools are equitably funded.[/quote]
I believe schools are not equitably funded statewide. According to the Huffington Post, New York spends $17,385 per pupil. Which is a little deceptive for a figure, because those students are certainly not seeing the full benefit of that money. We are certainly paying a lot of money into the system, but is the distribution equitable? Absolutely not.
As I’ve walked door to door in the 109th Assembly, homeowners are asking me “what are you going to do about these property taxes?” They pay $5,000… $7,000… $9,000 dollars in property taxes. And what do we get for that? We get a system where parents are forced into a lottery to decide where to go to school. Can you imagine what it would be like if we had to use a lottery to decide what’s for dinner? That would be preposterous. You can choose whether you want to the grocery store around the corner, order carry out, get delivery, any number of factors that work for you, because that’s what choice looks like.
I am in favor of figuring out a way to make school funding more equitable and at the same time giving parents the ability to choose. Not just parents who want to send their child to private school, but all parents. One of those ways is making sure the money is attached directly to the student and goes where they go. Can you imagine if teachers had to compete for that $17,385 to provide good services to the child? As a preschool teacher for 9 years I know it can be done, I’ve seen amazing lessons that used only recycled materials and some creativity. These teachers that provide the right mix of affordability and quality would become immensely valued, as they should be.
Less administrative costs and affordable pensions are a big deal as well, they mean that less money is going toward the education of the student. Teachers should be paid fairly, but there are limits to what is sustainable. According to the New York State Association of School Business officials, teacher pensions have risen 299 percent over the past 10 years. The local share of funding (property taxes) is going up, and both the Federal and the State share of education funding are going down. If we keep following this plan we will face a harsh economic reality and a sad truth when these homeowners (some of whom who have lived here since they were children) pack up and leave the state. Literally everyone loses if we continue along this path. Teachers, parents, students, and homeowners.
We can’t assure equity in outcomes, but we can strive for equity in opportunity. That’s why I support the kinds of programs that ensure parental choice and local control in education.
Do you support the educational tax credit for parents who send their children to private schools?
No such tax credit has been proposed. The proposed legislation would give tax credits to persons who donate money to foundations that support private or parochial schools. That would enable wealthy individuals to avoid paying taxes. The credits do not go to the parents of students, though there was some discussion of tax credits for low income individuals (combined parental income of less than $60,000) who choose to send their children to private or parochial schools, but that proposal has always been coupled with huge tax breaks for the wealthy. I do not support these proposals.[/quote]
No. I am opposed to the Education Tax Credit (ETC) which allows individuals to claim up to $1 million tax credit for donations to schools – private, public, religious, and charter – a precedent setting change that would have wide ranging ramifications. The most troubling aspect of the ETC is the unprecedented 75 to 90% reduction in taxes owed – or a tax credit – to education “investors.” This would allow investors to almost fully avoid their tax liability by receiving an almost dollar-for-dollar tax credit for donations of up to $1 million. Additionally, the ETC would be first-come-first-served, with such a lucrative tax credit, it’s highly likely that wealthy individuals and corporations in New York City will quickly use the full credit, making it unlikely to touch our district in any way other than a decrease in tax revenue.[/quote]
No. I support a dollar-for-dollar educational tax credit for all parents. Not only parents but businesses as well. What does that mean though? That means that if a business owes $10,000 in taxes, and donates $8,000 to a scholarship fund, that it now owes only $2,000 in taxes. This is a great incentive to not only allow taxpayers more choice in where there money is going, but an incentive to support education in their communities. It also means that if a family owes $500 in taxes, and spent $500 in tuition, that they pay zero taxes that year. We need to give property owners and parents a break and allow them to see that their child is educated in the way they see fit, which is especially pertinent to students with special needs.[/quote]
I oppose the education tax credit.[/quote]
I support letting taxpayers keep more of their money but this credit puts public schools in jeopardy. As I understand, this is a refundable credit. I would be in favor of shifting this credit to a deduction. I am not in any way against private schools. They offer strong educational opportunities. But I am a product of public school. When I see books being used from two decades ago, holes in the walls, metal detectors at the gates, teachers who view their career as a draining job, it tells me that the money going to this credit is better suited on investing in public education. Why? Those who graduate get better jobs, they pay more taxes. They are generally healthier, which saves Medicaid dollars and insurance premiums. They are less likely to abuse drugs, have issues with the law etc. In the long run, if you are going to pay taxes, education and that is efficient education, needs to be a top priority.[/quote]
How can NYS make college more affordable?
First of all, let’s start with the problem. According to data from the federal Digest of Education Statistics, the inflation-adjusted “sticker price” of tuition, fees, room and board rose 151 percent, from $8,473 to $21,728, between 1980 and 2014.
I have worked very hard to pay off my student debt, all while working at a preschool. Full disclosure, I paid $253.18 a month while netting about $600 every 2 weeks. After rent and bills, that did not leave me much breathing room. This payment amount was a substantial percentage of my income. I’d like to see both the costs of education come down and the rate which students pay following college come down. How do we do this?
First off, repayment should be income-based. Capping at around 4 to 5 percent of income. I’m open to the idea of completely different arrangements in education, where students can postpone tuition and pay it back later as a portion of their income. We already do that, but the portion of income is very high and not within our control.
I feel it’s important to note here, that on the Federal Level, pumping so much money into the system has played a role in the creation of the college bubble. As long as the government makes sure the bill is paid, colleges will keep raising tuition.
“Increases in financial aid in recent years have enabled colleges and universities blithely to raise tuitions, confident that Federal loan subsidies would help cushion the increase.” – 1987 Secretary of Education William J Bennet
Does this mean I don’t want to see every student have the opportunity to go to college? No. It means I want to see affordable college with capped repayment over time. [/quote]
To begin with, SUNY state-wide bureaucracy needs to be reduced. Local campuses should be more autonomous and need to reduce administration as well. Studies have shown that college administration has proliferated in the last several decades. Secondly, we need to reinstate the stock transfer tax which NY had from 1915 to 1979. This is a very small sales tax on the sales of stocks and bonds, much less than the 8% tax paid on consumer goods. That would produce billions more in revenue and permit stabilizing and reducing college tuition.[/quote]
More and more families are finding it harder to afford the cost of a college education. We are blessed right here in New York with what I believe to be the best state university system in the country. We must provide our university system will more financial resources to help make tuition more affordable. Additionally loan forgiveness programs are a great way to assist graduates as they enter the workforce so the state should make these investments as well.[/quote]
With the government guaranteeing all loans, colleges had an open ticket to raise tuition year after year. The availability of grants to attend any institutions should be reconsidered. I think the state money we spend on support education should go to providing community college at a substantial discount, while reserving the loans etc. for four year institutions. After two years at community college students will either have a trade degree, or can then transfer to a four year school. This would save countless dollars to families, and would likely be a better investment of our grant monies. Take my own experience. Loved my undergrad at Siena but I left with $80,000- in debt. Then went on to get a Masters and a PhD. No job I apply for now considers my undergraduate degree. I could have just as easily did a two year community college then finish bachelors at state university. Another issue we need to consider is lobbying the federal government to lower the interest rates on student loans. Look, the rate is high because of default. But if we can shift the mentality of going to the biggest and most expensive schools, and rather recognizing that we have world class community colleges and public universities, the total amount borrowed would drop drastically, reducing default rates. If private colleges want to attract students, they can offer better scholarships. I think we also need to emphasize public servant loan forgiveness programs, to attract strong talent to public service. Longer-term to reduce costs we need to also emphasize and target fields where individuals may thrive. We need more electricians, plumbers, welders. Couple these skills with business skills, and then new business opportunities arise. But many times, these individuals land in a program that isn’t right for them at a four year program. There is research supporting this, and it leads to college drop-out rates, and subsequently loan defaults, rising.[/quote]
By continuing to provide and support programs such as the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), HEOP, the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), and keeping tuition in line for working families.
I supported this year’s budget, which increases education aid by $1.47 billion – or 6.5 percent – for a total of $24.8 billion, representing the largest investment in education in New York history. This includes an increase in Foundation Aid of $627 million and provides $433 million to fully eliminate the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) once and for all, putting an end to the hardship it has caused our schools and to the burden it has placed on local taxpayers.[/quote]
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