Capital NewYork By Jessica Bakeman 5:47 a.m. | Oct. 30, 2014
PROP 3: BONDING FOR EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY
If approved: The state would be authorized to borrow $2 billion for various education purposes. Proposed by Cuomo in his 2014 State of the State, the chief advertised purpose of the bond is for technology upgrades in school districts, which vary widely in terms of their resources. While the funds would cover infrastructure upgrades to support reliable, high-speed internet access and devices like laptops and tablets, there are other allowable uses. For example, school districts might use it to build or renovate pre-kindergarten classrooms, obtain space to eliminate trailers in overcrowded schools or to purchase high-tech security upgrades. The money would be distributed using existing school-aid formulas. Approval of the bond act would also authorize the state to borrow another $5 million for technology upgrades in schools that serve students with disabilities.
The language: “The SMART SCHOOLS BOND ACT OF 2014, as set forth in section one of part B of chapter 56 of the laws of 2014, authorizes the sale of state bonds of up to two billion dollars ($2,000,000,000) to provide access to classroom technology and high-speed internet connectivity to equalize opportunities for children to learn, to add classroom space to expand high-quality pre-kindergarten programs, to replace classroom trailers with permanent instructional space, and to install high-tech smart security features in schools. Shall the SMART SCHOOLS BOND ACT OF 2014 be approved?”
Who’s for it: Cuomo, New York State United Teachers. (Other school groups and top education leaders are lukewarm to the proposal.)
Who’s against it: Conservative Party, Empire Center, Citizens Budget Commission.
What the opponents say: “The ballot language is laced with marketing spin, from the title, ‘Smart Schools Bond Act of 2014,’ to highly dubious promises that the $2 billion will ‘equalize opportunities for children to learn’ and lead to ‘high-quality’ pre-K programs,” E.J. McMahon, president of the fiscally conservative Empire Center, wrote in an op-ed published in the New York Post. “Ignore the spin. Even New Yorkers inclined to write a blank check for education should think long and hard before they say ‘yes’ to Prop 3. The annual payments on $2 billion in bonds could ultimately come to more than $130 million a year. A far better way to “equalize opportunities to learn” would be to spend that money on added annual aid to public and charter schools serving the state’s neediest children.”
Think Tank Says Proposal 3 is Not a Good Investment for Taxpayers
Ken Girardin, marketing and communications manager at the Empire Center for Public Policy…
Letter: State already spends a fortune on schools
Buffalo New, October 30, 2014, 4:29:54 PM -State already spends a fortune on schools Let’s get an accounting before money is borrowed, as proposed by the Smart Schools Bond Act. Western New Yorkers pay some of the highest school taxes … Read More
This policy brief analyzes the proposed Smart Schools Bond Act -a bond referendum that will be on the ballot on November 4- and urges New Yorkers to vote “No” for three reasons: the State is approaching its debt cap; capital investment in technology devices is unlikely to yield lasting benefits; and no needs assessment has been done to weigh investment in school technology against other pressing unfunded infrastructure investments.
“Good-government groups are often scoffed at in Albany, but the [CBC’s] analyses have a real impact on policy in the Capitol. The accessible, well-researched reports … cut through the rhetoric with substance that lawmakers find difficult to ignore.” – City State
“One of the oldest and most respected independent fiscal watchdog groups in the country.” – The Bond Buyer
“[The CBC] brings credibility, brings information, brings reasonable advocacy, and does a great public service; we need them today more than ever.” –
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
CBC Fast Facts
What NY Should Do With $4B?
CBC published on CRAINS NY By Carol Kellermann July 24, 2014
New York state will soon receive more than $4 billion in settlements from large financial institutions. “Politicians and pundits have already suggested uses…and the discussion will intensify as elections in November approach. The campaign season makes it especially tempting to propose short-term uses that worsen rather than improve the state’s fundamental finances…Now is the time to establish guidelines that ensure the funds yield lasting benefits for New Yorkers.” Five ways the state can spend the money to benefit taxpayers.
#1- Reduce long-term debt. New York state’s long-term debt now totals $52.2 billion; paying off $4 billion may seem small but would actually have substantial benefits. Interest must be paid on that debt, and reducing the debt service would benefit taxpayers in every year that the debt would otherwise have been repaid. Paying off $4 billion of 30-year bonds with 4% interest, for example, would save $231 million annually for a total of $6.9 billion.
Reduce other long-term liabilities. New York’s estimated OPEB liability is $66.5 billion. In addition to outstanding bonds, the state has other long-term liabilities in the form of unfunded pension obligations and other-post-employment-benefit (OPEB) liabilities for retirees’ future health insurance.
#5 Make one-time investments that provide multiyear benefits. Besides reducing liabilities or investing in physical assets, non-recurring resources can support one-time expenditures with recurring benefits. Examples include the purchase of information-technology systems that facilitate case management and cost-savings in Medicaid, and establishing a revolving-loan fund to support worthy projects by localities. A $4 billion revolving-loan fund earning 4% annually for the purpose of enabling school districts to invest in computer equipment could provide $160 million annually, enough to nearly double their current annual spending for computers.
Founded in 1932, the Citizens Budget Commission is a research and watchdog organization for all taxpayers and no special interests devoted to enhancing New York’s competitiveness through promotion of sound state and local budget and management practices.
New York Led the Nation in Education Spending in 2012
Jun 02, 2014 – New U.S. Census data show New York maintained its position as the top per-pupil spender among states on public elementary-secondary education in 2012. New York spent $19,552 per student, compared to $10,608 on average nationally, and $16,274 and $17,266 on average in the neighboring states of Connecticut and New Jersey, respectively.
Posted by Majority Press on Friday, June 20th, 2014
Increased school aid by $1.1 billion, bringing total support for public schools to $22.1 billion!