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Lawmakers eye $4.2 billion deal to fund needy NY state schools

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Lawmakers are zeroing on a blockbuster deal that would funnel $4.2 billion in additional aid to public schools across New York state over three years to comply with a controversial court ruling.

In the Campaign for Fiscal Equity ruling, the Court of Appeals in 2006 found that Albany’s underfunding of New York City’s public schools denied Big Apple students a “sound, basic education.”

Under the tentative pact discussed by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and members of his Democratic conference on Sunday, $4.2 billion would be funneled to schools statewide over three years, or $1.4 billion per year, to abide by the CFE case.

The money would be distributed under a progressive “foundation aid” formula aimed at steering more funds to New York City and other poorer school districts.

“I’m going to be very proud when this budget passes. It’s going to be historic,” Assembly Education Committee Chairman Michael Benedetto (D-Bronx) told the Post Sunday night when asked about the funding.

Benedetto said the Democratic-led Assembly has long sought a financial package to meet obligations under the CFE ruling, including in this year’s budget proposal. The $4.2 billion spending proposal was included in the Assembly’s original budget resolution introduced two weeks ago.

Sen. John Liu (D-Queens), who chairs that body’s panel on New York City schools, confirmed Sunday there was an agreement on the $4.2 billion funding package with the Assembly and Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He said the funding would apply to schools statewide.

Both houses of the Legislature — the Democratic-run Senate as well as the Assembly — are pushing to raise $7 billion in taxes on big businesses and wealthy taxpayers to fund the additional spending on schools and other programs in a $200 billion plus budget due for adoption on Thursday, April 1..

The proposed tax hikes would come in addition to an infusion of $12.6 billion in federal COVID-19 recovery aid the state treasury is receiving under President Biden and Congress’ American Rescue plan. The federal assistance, coupled with higher than anticipated tax revenues, balances the state budget without the need for spending cuts or substantial tax hikes, state budget Robert Mujica said last week.

Education advocates have long complained that Cuomo and lawmakers have failed to comply with the CFE ruling — including at a rally outside the governor’s Manhattan office last Friday.

Alliance for Quality Education executive director Jasmine Gripper charged that Cuomo “has consistently failed black children by underfunding our schools and limiting opportunities.”

Initial efforts to comply with the case stalled when the state grappled with the Great Recession of 2008.

Budget watchdogs have criticized the court ruling, noting New York’s state and local governments combined spend more per capita on public schools than any other state in the country, — more than $24,000 per student, nearly double the national average. Also, funding for New York City schools compares favorably to other urban school districts across the country.

Cuomo’s office stopped short of saying there was a deal and suggested the state has already abided by the dated CFE court ruling.

“Budget negotiations are ongoing. That said, the basic facts on this lawsuit — decided 14 years ago — are clear: It only applied to New York City and required that $1.93 billion in additional state, local, and federal revenues combined be provided to the City school district,” said Cuomo budget spokesman Freeman Klopott.

“Since this decision, the district’s budget has grown by $13 billion. We are working with the Legislature to determine what additional resources for school aid are available.”

Klopott also defended Cuomo’s education record, claiming the administration “has invested record funding in schools.”

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Suspect arrested in fatal Brooklyn stabbing

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Police have apprehended a suspect in the fatal December stabbing of a Brooklyn man, cops said on Saturday.

The suspect, John Headley, 32, also of Brooklyn, was taken into custody Friday and charged with murder and weapons possession for the Dec. 12 knifing of Ken Baird, 37, police said.

Baird was stabbed multiple times in the chest following a dispute on Crown Street near Utica Avenue in Crown Heights at about 6:40 p.m., police said.

EMS transported Baird to King County Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, cops said.

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Man dies after jumping from Staten Island Ferry

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A 53-year-old man died Saturday after jumping from the Staten Island Ferry into the chilly waters of New York Harbor, police said.

NYPD Harbor launch officers pulled the man out of the water after responding to reports of a jumper near the Whitehall Ferry Terminal in Manhattan at around 2 p.m.

“He jumped off the ferry as it pulled away from the dock,” an NYPD spokesman told The Post. He jumped off the Ferryboat Andrew J. Barberi, police said.

The unidentified victim was removed to Pier 11 and transported to New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after 3:10 p.m.

A newsstand worker said there were “about 50 or so emergency people” at Pier 11 following a valiant effort — which included CPR — to save the man’s life.

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An NYPD spokesman says the 53-year-old man “jumped off the ferry as it pulled away from the dock.”

Michael Dalton

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The 53-year-old man was transported to New York-Presbyterian Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Michael Dalton

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Kemp Lashes M.L.B. as Republicans Defend Georgia’s Voting Law

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Mr. Kemp, who is gearing up to run for re-election in 2022, has striven to re-enter the good graces of Republican voters after becoming a central political target of former President Donald J. Trump because of his refusal to help Mr. Trump overturn the state’s election results last year. A former secretary of state of Georgia who has his own record of decisions that made voting harder for the state’s residents, he is again a key G.O.P. voice leading the charge on the issue.

On Saturday, he repeatedly tried to paint the league’s decision as driven by Stacey Abrams, the voting rights advocate and former Democratic candidate for governor in Georgia who is seen as likely to challenge Mr. Kemp again next year.

Ms. Abrams, one of the most prominent critics of Georgia’s voting law, has pushed back on calls for sports leagues and corporations to boycott the state. She said on Friday that she was “disappointed” baseball officials had pulled the All-Star Game but that she was “proud of their stance on voting rights.”

In defending the law in Georgia, Mr. Kemp singled out two Democratically controlled states, New York and Delaware, and compared their voting regulations with the new law in Georgia. Those states do not offer as many options for early voting as Georgia does, but they have also not passed new laws instituting restrictions on voting.

“In New York, they have 10 days of early voting,” Mr. Kemp said (New York actually has nine). “In Georgia, we have a minimum of 17, with two additional Sundays that are optional in our state. In New York, you have to have an excuse to vote absentee. In Georgia, you can vote absentee for any reason.”

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