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School officials say poorer districts to hurt the most as Cuomo asks to do more with less

By PAT BAILEY

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WKTV) - During his last budget address in Syracuse on Wednesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo said that in order to avoid further financial despair, the state legislature must pass his budget proposal as is.

However, because of deep cuts across the board, not every state department is happy with Cuomo's proposal.

Cuomo made it clear on Wednesday that he is serious about cutting state spending and reducing the $10 billion deficit. In order to do that, he wants to cut two big areas: medicaid and education.

Cuomo added Wednesday that the current state education formula for school districts isn't working. Too much money, over the past few years, has been given out without producing results, Cuomo said.

"Only government works where there is no incentive for performance," Cuomo said. "In the private sector, everything is about performance."

A plan to change the current formula, and introducing two new grants where districts would be awarded for classroom work and from a management stand point, is part of the Governor's proposal.

The biggest message from Cuomo to districts, however was "do more with less." His budget proposal cuts aid statewide, by an average of 2.9%.

"Don't tell me you can't save 2%. I don't believe it," Cuomo said. "Education has had record increases over the past decade, double digit increases. I don't believe you can't find 2% in savings."

Herkimer BOCES Superintendent Mark Vivacqua says the Governor does a good job of throwing out numbers based on averages, but his districts must balance their budgets based on real numbers, after significant cuts.

"This budget, when it gets enacted, really is going to represent New York State breaking its social contract with the kids in our area," Vivacqua said. "I can tell you from this budget, those who have the least, lose the most. Don't worry about the wealthy kids, they will be fine in this budget. It's the areas and communities that have low wealth, most of the schools I represent, that get hurt the most."

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