Tom Libous: Guest column: On-time N.Y. state budget offers good news for taxpayers, families and schools
The question I ask myself every year during budget negotiations is this: "How much is this going to cost the hardworking taxpayers I'm accountable to?"
For the 2014 State Budget, the answer is: "Less."
My colleagues and I were able to keep state spending growth below 2 percent, cut local property taxes, and give our schools their largest increase in education funding ever.
We added a record $3.4 billion to the STAR Property Tax Program and the Enhanced STAR Program for seniors, which mean more savings for hardworking, middle-class taxpayers.
Landmark School Aid Restoration for Tioga County
The Budget includes the biggest and most comprehensive school aid package ever - almost twice the aid Gov. Andrew Cuomo originally proposed. That means more resources for our kids and a lighter burden on taxpayers:
Tioga County Schools, including Waverly, received a 5.9 percent average increase, totaling $3.36 million.
In addition to $1.1 billion more for our schools, the Budget includes $1.5 billion to phase-in universal full-day pre-kindergarten across the state.
Delaying Common Core
I've heard from parents, teachers and students on the fumbled rollout of Common Core. The budget includes a number of reforms to delay or block Common Core until we can get it right.
Testing Reform: It prohibits standardized "bubble tests" for kindergarten to 2nd grade students. It helps school districts eliminate unnecessary tests and delays recording of high-stakes math and English tests for 3rd to 9th grade. No current students will have their permanent records tarnished by these scores. Recording would start in 2018.
Privacy Protection: We need to give teachers the data they need without sacrificing student or parent privacy. So the "Parents' Bill of Rights for Data Privacy" establishes strict data protection and security requirements. Parents must be notified immediately of any data breach, with strict penalties for violations.
We all want the best for our children, and for our children to be their best as they grow. This budget helps deliver that.
2014-2015 Enacted Budget School Aid
(Aid numbers below exclude building, transportation and BOCES aid.)
Tioga County: In Candor, a 6.14 percent change, or $417,000 was realized; in Newark Valley, a 5.52 percent change, or $516,000; in Owego-Apalachin, a 8.39 percent change, or $896,000 increase; In Spencer Van Etten, a 7.24 percent change, or $620,000; in Tioga Central, a 5.25 percent change, or $449,000; in Waverly, a 5.25 percent change, or $449,000.
Note: Tom Libous is the state senator for New York's 52nd Senate District, which includes Tioga County.