There is bipartisan opposition to how Gov. Kathy Hochul wants to change the state’s primary school funding formula. 

The governor wants to do away with a provision called “Save Harmless,” which essentially ensures school districts receive no less state aid than they did the year before. 

Hochul is also changing how the state calculates the Consumer Price Index; instead of using the most recent year, the governor wants to use a 10-year average, dropping the highest and lowest years. 

Teachers’ unions, including New York City’s United Federation of Teachers (UFT), are among the loudest critics of these changes.

Capital Tonight asked UFT President Michael Mulgrew why these changes to the Foundation Aid formula are so distressing to schools. 

“Because [Governor Hochul] changed it and changed it in such a way that it’s basically a cut to Foundation Aid,” he said. 

Inflation is currently at 4%, but the governor’s budget only increases Foundation Aid by 2.3%, so districts consider Hochul’s proposal a cut. 

Additionally, Mulgrew points out that schools are expected to do much more since the pandemic, including wrap-around services, mental health services and nutrition programs.

“It’s not like we just do academics anymore. We’re doing everything. The schools have become the social safety net,” he said. 

Typically, the Legislature will add to the governor’s proposed education budget in the final budget due on April 1. This year, lawmakers would need to increase funding by more than $825 million, which already brings New York’s education budget to the highest level in state history.

But unions, including UFT, had given the Hochul administration enormous credit for fulfilling the Foundation Aid promise, so this year’s budget proposal came as an unwelcome surprise. 

“You promised to fulfill it and she did, and we gave her great credit because she was the first governor to fulfill Foundation aid. And she’s had many speeches all over the state talking about this. We expected that promise to be fulfilled and that’s really why we’re a little be aggravated at this moment,” Mulgrew said.