Teachers union sues Cuomo over school aid cuts, claim governor’s spending power is unconstitutional

ALBANY — The state’s largest teachers union is suing Gov. Cuomo over funds withheld from school districts across New York and claims his spending power is unconstitutional.



Andrew Cuomo wearing a suit and tie: New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a news conference on September 08, 2020 in New York City.


© Spencer Platt
New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a news conference on September 08, 2020 in New York City.

The suit, filed Wednesday in Albany Supreme Court, argues that the state is illegally withholding $5.2 billion in school aid and that the governor has no constitutional authority to cut the budget despite sweeping powers granted to him by the Legislature amid the pandemic.

“Time is up,” New York State United Teachers president Andy Pallotta said. “With the loss of state funding driving cuts at the local level in districts around the state, we can’t just keep waiting for action at the federal level to fund our schools.”

Lawmakers gave Cuomo broad power to amend and cut the budget as

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N.Y. School Cuts May Be Unconstitutional

A temporary 20 percent cut to state aid to schools has forced districts in New York to scale back plans for in-person learning and expand remote instruction. But the attorney who won a court case over a lack of school funding said the cuts might be unconstitutional.

Michael Rebell was the lead attorney in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit. It resulted in a 2006 New York Court of Appeals decision that ordered the state to pay billions more in school aide each year to help secure each child’s right under New York’s constitution to a sound basic education.

There’s been debate over whether that court order was ever fulfilled under the tenure of Governor Andrew Cuomo. But Rebell said a permanent 20% cut in state aid, which has been temporarily imposed by Cuomo citing the COVID-19 pandemic related state budget deficit, would likely violate that court order. He says

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