Provide Full Reimbursement for All State Mandates and Expenses

Published on November 18th, 2011

Summary

Until recently, the state’s Mandated Services Reimbursement (MSR) program has provided 100% reimbursement of the costs incurred by schools in compliance with state administrative mandates.  For the last several years, agency officials have not permitted schools to claim 100 percent of their expenses – nor have lawmakers provided sufficient funds to reimburse schools for those expenses.  In addition, in 2009, lawmakers bailed out the beleaguered Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) by imposing a payroll tax on all employers in the MTA region – but have provided reimbursement to only public schools.  

Objective

Restore the standard of reimbursing 100% of actual annual expenses incurred by religious and independent schools in administering state mandates and programs and include religious and independent schools in the MTA reimbursement mechanism established for public schools.

Rationale

The Mandated Services Reimbursement (MSR) program, enacted in 1974, requires the Commissioner of Education to reimburse religious and independent schools for the actual costs they incur in complying with certain state administrative mandates and participating in state programs.  An important component of the MSR program, referred to as Comprehensive Attendance Policy (CAP), involves reimbursement for the recording and reporting of attendance data and the tracking students throughout the day.   However, lawmakers have failed to fully reimburse religious and independent schools for these costs.  Specifically, 1) budget cuts have reduced reimbursement to less than 100 percent; 2) there has been no reimbursement for CAP expenses incurred in the 2002-03, 2003-04 and 2004-05 school years; and 3) state education officials changed the CAP reimbursement formula to cover up an error that the State Education Department made in 2007, costing schools $15 million each year since then.  It is estimated that the State owes more than $300 in delinquent reimbursement to schools – more than $600 per student.

To make matters worse, in order to bail out the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), state lawmakers imposed a new “payroll tax” in the 12-county MTA region in and around New York City.  The MTA payroll tax is costing religious and independent schools located in the 12-county region approximately $8 million.  Public schools, on the other hand, are reimbursed for their MTA tax burden.

The actions of lawmakers and agency officials have forced tuition to rise and services to be cut.  Tuition-paying parents deserve and can tolerate neither.

The Conference urges the Governor and legislators to meet their obligations under the MSR / CAP reimbursement programs and to include religious and independent schools in the MTA reimbursement mechanism established for public schools.

You can download this document, Provide Full Reimbursement for All State Mandates and Expenses, in PDF form.

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