Approved state budget includes bail reform changes, no increase in school aid

In the middle of a worldwide pandemic with the state already in billions of dollars in debt, state officials say they did the best they could to maintain services for New Yorkers.

News 12 Staff

Apr 3, 2020, 6:54 PM

Updated 1,573 days ago

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Lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have approved a $177 billion budget aimed at keeping the state government running amid the coronavirus crisis.
In the middle of a worldwide pandemic with the state already in billions of dollars in debt, state officials say they did the best they could to maintain services for New Yorkers.
As for state aid to schools, the budget calls for zero increases. But because of New York's complicated school aid formula, it still means that come districts will see a cut, while some could see significant cuts.
Roosevelt, Amityville and Freeport stand to take a big hit. Amityville and Freeport will lose about $1 million each, while Roosevelt is set to take a big hit as well considering state aid makes up 80% of its budget.
The budget also includes a provision that gives Gov. Andrew Cuomo the right to cut school mid-year, depending on the state's financial situation months down the road.
"That's a significant amount of money that would be lost in the middle of the year when there's no opportunity except to tap into reserves, which some districts have. There's no opportunity for us to get that revenue back," says Joe Dragone, assistant schools superintendent for Roosevelt.
Many schools districts don't have a reserve fund to dip into, which leaves them two choices when they're short on money: cut programs or staff, or seek a tax hike from residents.
The budget also includes bail reform. Mostly from the insistence of legislators from suburban areas, more crimes have been added to the list of offenses for which judges can detain suspects.
Also included is the banning of flavored e-cigarettes and Styrofoam food containers, and it requires employers to provide paid sick leave.
"I understand we're all consumed with the coronavirus situation, but you have to be able to walk and chew gum," says Gov. Cuomo. "We have to move forward at the same time and that's why passing the budget and these pieces of legislation were important."


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