Archbishop Dolan’s Testimony on Education Budget

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Archbishop Dolan’s Testimony on Education Budget

February 15, 2011

Testimony of Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan Regarding the 2011-12 Education Budget

Joint Legislative Budget Hearing
February 15, 2011

Good afternoon, Senator DeFrancisco, Senator Flanagan, Assemblyman Farrell, Assemblywoman Nolan and honorable members, my name is Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York. Joining me today is Dr. Timothy McNiff, Superintendent of Schools for the archdiocese, and Jim Cultrara, Director for Education at the NYS Catholic Conference, of which I am honored to serve as president.

I am grateful for this opportunity to comment on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposals related to elementary and secondary education. It is my hope and prayer that my comments help you shape a state budget that is fair, just and prudent. I am honored to address distinguished public officials such as yourselves, and deeply appreciate your high interest in education. I am here on behalf of the approximately 200,000 students in the state of New York in our Catholic schools, (the largest non-governmental school system in our state), young people and their parents of every religion or none at all, of every ethnic and economic background. I am speaking for them.

While my formal written testimony addresses numerous areas where are schools are in need of assistance, I will limit my oral remarks to just three of them.

First is the area of Mandated Services and Comprehensive Attendance Policy (CAP) Reimbursement:

The Governor is proposing an 8 percent cut in Mandated Services Reimbursement (MSR) and CAP reimbursement funding. This proposed cut is on top of the 6 percent shortfall from last year’s state budget which itself was on top of cuts in reimbursement from the previous two years. Are you sensing a theme here? This 8 percent cut, I might add, is greater than the 7.3 percent cut to governmental schools.

Keep in mind that the state is already delinquent on reimbursement to religious and independent schools for mandates carried out by our schools dating as far back as the 2002-03 school year. We estimate the state’s obligation to our schools to be approximately $270 million, and as a result of the state’s delinquency, our schools have been forced to raise tuition to fill the gap. Tragically, others have had to close because our families cannot bear the burden.

The blame for this growing debt falls squarely on the State Education Department which has yet to officially calcula