With the state facing its grimmest budget outlook in years, the legislative session shows signs of becoming a tug-of-war between public schools and health care—the two biggest recipients of state spending and, not coincidentally, the two heaviest-hitting lobbying forces Albany.
Besides having the country's highest per-pupil PreK-12 spending, every New York school district spent more than the national average on a per-pupil basis.
The tax cap effect was on full display in yesterday’s school budget voting.
School budgets were approved at a record-high rate of 99.3 percent, adding to evidence that districts can live within a property tax cap set at either 2 percent or the prior year’s average rate of inflation, whichever is less.
The full extent of the continuing rise in school spending since the recession was not inevitable or unavoidable.
State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has officially confirmed what federal inflation statistics were already telegraphing: New York's statutory cap on local school property tax levies will be just a hair above zero for 2016-17 school year budgets, which will be submitted for voter approval in May.
The New York State Teachers' Retirement System (NYSTRS) earned only 5.2 percent on its investments—well short of its assumed rate of 8 percent—during the fiscal year ending last June 30.
But taxpayer contributions to NYSTRS, already due to drop by more than four full percentage points of covered payroll in school year 2015-16, nonetheless are projected by the system actuary to decrease by a little bit more (up to 1.76 percentage points) in 2016-17.
The Yonkers school district will be the first to get a special added state aid handout from a $100 million "Upstate Distressed Schools Fund" announced over the weekend by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
But it's not as if public schools in the City of Gracious Living have been shortchanged.
Don't look now, but given current inflation trends, next year's school property tax cap may be ... zero!
That's the message of a statement released last week by the Educational Conference Board (ECB), a coalition of groups representing public school administrators, school boards and—last but hardly least—the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) labor union.
The ECB's "warning" was meant as an inside-the-Albany-bubble scare tactic, but for most New Yorkers, it's good news: further confirmation that the tax cap is working exactly as intended.
Since the enactment of the property tax cap, New York school property taxes have risen at the slowest rate since at least 1982.
Per-pupil spending in the 669 school districts outside New York’s five largest cities will climb next year by 2.5 percent, nearly twice the projected inflation rate, according to an analysis released today by the Empire Center for Public Policy. The analysis indicates that school districts' per-pupil property tax levies will increase by 2.1 percent in 2015-16.
New York’s property tax cap has survived a legal challenge from the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) for the second time in six months.
Throughout New York State, no public document has a greater impact on tax burdens and educational performance than the local teacher union contract.
Yet few school districts have made any effort to share these contracts with taxpayers — and so the Empire Center has stepped into the breach by doing it for them.