Time Warner Cable News|February 28, 2017|Nick Reisman

Governor Andrew Cuomo this year seemingly sought to avoid a protracted battle over education, emphasizing in public remarks his plan to add $960 million in new aid to schools in his budget.

“When you look at our spending over the past years, it has increased by 30 percent in just six years,” the governor said.

And downplaying his previous support for education reform efforts such as expanding charter schools and more stringent teacher evaluations — which the state’s teachers unions have protested.

“The people of this state believe education is a priority,” Cuomo said. “I agree with them, and we’ve proverbially put our money where our mouth is — the highest level of education spending in state history.”

But despite the boost in spending, some advocacy groups say it isn’t enough. The Alliance for Quality Education is pushing back hard with a video comparing Cuomo to Republican President Donald Trump when it comes to education rhetoric.

“Trump and Cuomo use the same talking points, to sell the same policies, attacking public schools,” said an AQE advertisement.

AQE Executive Director Billy Easton says the video, which could run on social media platforms, is about getting Cuomo’s attention.

“We’re trying to get the governor to understand that is not good for education,” Easton said, “and we’re showing a similarity between what the governor has said over time, [and] what Donald Trump is saying now.”

The group is trying to get Cuomo to endorse increasing education spending by billions of dollars that they say would satisfy a decade-old lawsuit, which the governor’s office insists has been settled.

“The increases are actually smaller than the increases that were enacted under Eliot Spitzer in 2007 and 2008,” Easton said.

In a statement, Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said, “This is more lobbyist lies from AQE, who are pushing their three biggest agenda items: More money, more money and more money? — the facts don’t matter — Governor Cuomo supports charter schools, so does the teacher’s union — AQE’s sponsor.?”

With the budget talks underway, it is expected lawmakers will add and gain more spending on school aid than what Cuomo initially proposed.


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