Republican State Sen. Mark Grisanti called on Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and his Assembly colleagues to join with Senate Republicans to accelerate the restoration of funding lost by school districts under the Gap Elimination Adjustment, and eliminate it by 2016-17.
Grisanti said the Gap Elimination Adjustment is affecting many schools across New York, especially in Western New York.
In 2010, Democrats controlling the Senate, Assembly and governor's office used the Gap Elimination Adjustment as a back-end way to curb a multibillion-dollar state deficit, Grisanti said. As a result, he said, school districts have been short-changed billions of dollars, which then places a greater strain on local taxpayers. This, he added, is now leading to cuts in the classroom and is hurting students.
"We must accelerate the funding to school districts and end the Gap Elimination Adjustment that forces school districts to absorb all of these costs handed down by the state," Grisanti said. "I am calling on Speaker Silver and the Assembly Democrats to join with the Senate Republicans in our plan to give these schools the funds to help with the Gap Elimination Adjustment, and to phase it out by 2016-17. This measure is hurting our schools, our educators, and, most of all, our children."
The Senate budget includes $541 million in gap elimination, with an additional $145 million in flexible funding that could be used toward gap elimination or pre-kindergarten. The Senate budget plan gave over eight-times more funding than the Assembly proposal toward gap elimination.
"I am listening to the school districts that I represent, and this is a very high priority," Grisanti said. "I hear the parents, teachers and educators in Lake Shore, Hamburg, Sweet Home, Ken-Ton, Tonawanda, Grand Island, Frontier and Orchard Park. I am aware of the budget concerns that are happening. I will keep up the fight to accelerate the restoration of funding lost by school districts under the Gap Elimination Adjustment, and eliminate it by 2016-17."
The Senate budget is due April 1.