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Cuomo refutes Nixon’s inequitable school funding claim

ALBANY — As Cynthia Nixon hits him over what she says is inequitable school funding, Gov. Cuomo on Friday argued the issue isn’t how much the state spends, but how districts use it.

During an appearance on “The Brian Lehrer Show” on WNYC public radio, Cuomo said the state spends the most in the country on school funding and twice the national average per pupil.

“We spend more than anyone else, how much more do you want to spend?” Cuomo asked. “It’s who gets the funds and what is the equity — the racial equity, geographic equity. That’s the real conversation we have to have.”

Cuomo has proposed requiring districts like New York City to provide details on where their school aid is being spent.

“New York City funds 1,600 schools, what percentage of that funding goes to poor minority schools?” Cuomo asked. “What percentage goes to high performing predominantly white schools?

“Nobody knows because the board of education has never published those numbers. How can that possibly be?”

Nixon, who announced she will challenge Cuomo in the September Democratic primary for governor, has accused the governor of not meeting a court order to provide billions of dollars more to city schools. Cuomo has argued the state has met its obligation and more.

He said he proposed requiring more spending transparency by the districts in January, long before Nixon got in the race this week.

Meanwhile, as state budget talks enter the final week, Cuomo called it “tenuous at best” that the final spending plan will contain a full-fledged congestion pricing plan to help fund the cash-strapped MTA.

But he added that “congestion pricing doesn’t happen in one-fell swoop. There are phases … and I am cautiously optimistic that we can start the process.”

Neither Cuomo, the Assembly nor the Senate have signed on to Cuomo’s Fix NYC panel’s recommendations that, in part, would impose an $11.52 per trip charge for motorists who enter a designated central business district in Manhattan.

The Assembly Democrats have proposed imposing fees on taxi and for-hire vehicle trips into the designated zone.

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