New York school districts are missing out on non-taxpayer revenue due to antiquated legal restrictions, according to a new report from the Empire Center for Public Policy.

Selling advertising and naming rights on school properties is widely seen as prohibited in New York, but experiences in other states suggest that New York’s schools are missing out on millions of dollars that could be used to sustain public school programs and mitigate property tax burdens.

Schools in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and a number of other states have used funds from naming rights on school facilities and advertising to fund building renovations, athletic and music programs, extracurricular activities and more.

By contrast, the New York State Constitution has long been interpreted as prohibiting such naming rights and commercial advertising, absent authorization by the Legislature. State lawmakers have not permitted school districts access to such non-tax revenue sources, even as homeowners continue to pay some of the nation’s highest property tax burdens.

Recommendations on how to take advantage of this opportunity can be found in Commercial Cash: How NY Schools Can Raise Extra Money Without Raising Taxes, an issue brief by Peter Murphy, the Empire Center’s senior fellow for education policy. The report explores why commercialization on school property has been historically prohibited and what the Legislature can do to enable school districts to access these new sources of revenue.

The Empire Center, based in Albany, is an independent, non-partisan, not-for-profit think tank dedicated to promoting policies to make New York a better place to live, work and raise a family.

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