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

New York’s Medicaid costs are soaring at double-digit rates

New York's already high Medicaid spending is growing at a double-digit rate for the second year in a row, recently released state figures show. After dipping during the first year o Read More

Budget’s Historic Spending Hike Shown in Financial Plan Update

Amidst spiking inflation, a market downturn and recession fears, state spending will soar to new heights under the April budget deal, as per (Plan) that the Governor’s budget office quietly i Read More

Minimum wage for home care aides is likely to mean bigger raises for downstate than upstate

The newly enacted wage hike for home care aides is likely to increase workers' pay more than three times as much in the New York City area as in other parts of the state, according to a review of labor data. Read More

The flawed arguments behind ‘Fair Pay for Home Care’

As they contemplate a major increase in Medicaid spending on home care for the elderly and disabled, state legislators are relying on information that's outdated, incomplete or inaccurate – and neglecting to think through the predictable consequences. Read More

The debate over Medicaid home-care funding needs a reality check

The push in Albany to boost wages for home health aides is seemingly disconnected from the larger realities of the state’s long-term care system. As they , officials in the home care industry are warning that the state faces an of in-home caregivers Read More

NY State Public School Enrollment Falls Five Percent Since Covid

New York’s public schools lost almost 60,000 students — 2.38 percent of their total student population —in the past year alone Read More

Answers needed on Governor Hochul’s health-care budget

The health-care agenda laid out by Governor Hochul in her budget proposal this week leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Here are a few of them. Read More

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

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!