Cuomo takes another step forward for Catholic schools

Published on January 17th, 2012

By Jim Cultrara

When Governor Cuomo took office, the Catholic Conference presented him with a full range of legislative initiatives and funding requests to support the needs of Catholic schools and indeed all religious and independent schools in the state.  Fewer than 40 days ago, Governor Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Skelos, and Assembly Speaker Silver took action on one of those issues by exempting religious and independent schools from the crushing MTA payroll tax – a tax for which the public schools had been reimbursed.  On the heels of that accomplishment and with today’s release of his Executive Budget proposal for the 2012 – 2013 state fiscal year, Governor Cuomo took another vitally important step forward on another issue facing our schools – i.e., full funding for Mandated Services Reimbursement (MSR) and Comprehensive Attendance Policy (CAP) reimbursement and resolution of the state’s debt under both MSR and CAP.  The Governor’s budget recommends a 17 percent increase in funding for MSR (enough to fully reimburse religious and independent schools for their MSR expenses for the current school year)  and maintains funding for CAP reimbursement at last year’s level.

While the issue is arcane to most, it is critically important to religious and independent school administrators who wrestle to balance school budgets.  In short, while these schools are expending approximately $150 million annually ($90 million for MSR and $60 million for CAP) in complying with state mandates and participating in state programs – the state’s reimbursement has been limited to just over a $100 million.  A shortfall in reimbursement generally translates into tuition increases, which is why the issue is even more important to the parents who struggle to come up with tuition money.  The Governor’s proposal begins to correct the problem.  Is there still a shortfall in CAP reimbursement?  Sure. Are parents still struggling to pay tuition?  Of course.  But sure enough and step by step, the Governor and lawmakers are moving in the right direction.

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