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Cuomo, legislators agree on $1.5 billion school aid hike

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and legislative leaders agreed to a school aid increase of $1.5 billion, or 6.5 percent, and to rescind a recession-era measure that has taken a slice of school aid increases each year.

Cuomo and legislative leaders agreed to the big increase for schools this year as the state enjoys its first substantial surplus in years and has a windfall of more than $1 billion from banks through enforcement settlements by Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.

Cuomo said the budget also includes $54 million for charter schools. The $430-per-pupil aid to charter schools is aimed at keeping pace with increases for traditional public schools, Cuomo said Thursday night in his budget briefing.

The budget also includes $100 million that will go directly to 144 failing schools designated by the state, Cuomo said.

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) had promised a “record” increase in school aid.

Another Senate Republican majority proposal in the budget will do away with the “gap elimination adjustment.” That was created in 2010 to take a slice of school aid increases to help shore up diminished tax revenue for state operations during the Great Recession. An coalition of Senate Republicans and suburban Democratic Assembly members have joined forces to try to end the so-called GEA, a legislative source said Wednesday, said Assemb. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach).

Legislators were working furiously Thursday night to pass the $159 billion state budget that was due at midnight.

School officials held to a less than 2-percent cap on property tax increases imposed by Albany have said another year of losing aid to the gap elimination adjustment would have forced further state and program cuts.

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