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N.Y.'s Cuomo Broke School Funding Promises, Group Contends

Advocates for protecting school funding say New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo hasn't lived up to his word on creating a more equitable funding system in the state.

A report released this week says that the recent state budget approved by Cuomo, a Democrat elected last year, and state lawmakers results in cuts that are three times as large in poor districts as wealthy ones.

The report was issued by the Alliance for Quality Education and the Public Policy and Education Fund of New York.

New York, like most states, faced a severe budget crunch this year, and elected officials there, as was also the case in many states, responded by cutting spending on government, and schools, specifically. In New York, the education reducations were $1.3 billion this year, by the report's estimates.

The two groups' report juxtaposes a quote offered by Cuomo last year describing school inequity as "probably the civil rights issue of our time," with a breakdown of state budget cuts and their impact on districts, by poverty level. While high-wealth districts lose $269 per-pupil, the losses in poor school systems, $843, and the poorest, $547, are much greater, the report's authors say.

Cuomo's office offered a one-line response to the report, directed at the Alliance for Quality Education's executive director:

"Billy Easton is the paid lobbyist for a group funded by the teacher's union," said Josh Vlasto, a spokesman for the governor, in a statement."What do you expect him to say?"

Easton acknowledged that his group receives financially support from teachers' unions, but wondered about the relevance of that information. "That doesn't exonerate the governor from addressing the content of the issues," he said. Inequities in schools are "growing because of the budget."

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