Addressing the possibility of mid-year cuts in school aid, which Senate leaders are pledging to avoid, Governor Paterson is quoted in today’s Newsday as saying: “Seventy-one percent of the resources we spend on education are administrative.  We can make a lot of cuts … without touching the classroom or affecting teachers.”

In fact, according to 2006 data from the state comptroller’s office, just 2.3 percent of school district expenditures are classified as administrative.   Counting a different way, the state Education Department classifies 77 percent of school expenses as “instructional.”  Either way, Paterson’s quoted estimate of administrative expenditures is wildly overblown.

Which is not to say that school aid can’t or shouldn’t be cut.  It’s risen by nearly 30 percent in the last three years and, under the current formula, would rise another 30 percent over the next three years.  A $1 billion cut in school aid in the state’s 2009-10 budget would translate into a net reduction of roughly 3 percent in total school district expenditures.   As it happens, school districts outside New York City currently have unrestricted reserves averaging 3 percent of their budgets.

The problem for schools is that the bulk of their budgets—typically exceeding, as a percent of operating expenses, the 71 percent figure that Paterson misapplied to administrative expenses—is tied up in contractually dictated salaries and benefits for personnel, mainly teachers.  That’s why any reduction in school aid needs to be accompanied by significant legislative relief from Taylor Law provisions like the Triborough amendment, which forces districts to continue paying longevity “step” increases even after a contract has expired.

About the Author

E.J. McMahon

Edmund J. McMahon is Empire Center's founder and a senior fellow.

Read more by E.J. McMahon

You may also like

Another Hochul To-Do: Timely Financial Reporting

The state will spend a record $212 billion in the current 2022 Fiscal Year, under the budget its elected leaders adopted in April. Read More

Health Research Inc. Turns Over its Payroll Records Despite Claiming To Be Exempt from FOIL

The full payroll records of more than 2,400 de facto state employees are available to the public for the first time after being released by Health Research Inc. Read More

Emergency Billions Pose Opportunity—and Risk—for NYS Schools

New York schools are to post publicly today plans for spending a huge pile of unexpected and unbudgeted cash. Read More

New York’s Medicaid Rolls Kept Pace with a Nationwide Surge During the Pandemic

New York's Medicaid and Child Health Plus programs added three-quarters of a million enrollees during the coronavirus pandemic, roughly matching the pace of a national surge in sign-ups. Read More

New York’s Medicaid and Public Health Crises Get Short Shrift in the New State Budget

In spite of an ongoing pandemic and spiraling Medicaid costs, New York's health-care system received surprisingly little attention in the new state budget. On issue after issue, law Read More

Schumer’s First Spending Bill as Majority Leader Tailors Money for New York Medicaid

The pandemic relief bill includes a boost in Medicaid funding that appears to be tailor-made for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Read More

A Letter From Washington Shrinks New York’s Budget Gap by $2 Billion or More

In a letter to governors two days after President Biden's inauguration, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said that the pandemic-related federal public health emergency "will likely remain in place for the entirety of 2021." Read More

Governor Cuomo’s budget proposal leaves the Medicaid throttle open

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Governor Cuomo's Medicaid budget is how little it changes the program's spending pattern. In spite of a once-in-century pandemic that rocked the state's health-care system and decimated state revenues, the govern Read More

Subscribe

Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100

General Inquiries: Info@EmpireCenter.org

Press Inquiries: Press@EmpireCenter.org

About

The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

Empire Center Logo Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!