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Campaign for Fiscal Equity

Both Parties File Briefs Before Panel of Special Masters

On Wednesday afternoon, both the plaintiffs and the defendants in CFE v. State submitted their briefs before the panel of special masters appointed by Justice Leland DeGrasse on August 3.

The plaintiffs' brief first criticizes the Attorney General's attempt to present the governor's legislative proposals, which have been rejected by the legislature, as the "state's" plan. It then closely analyzes all of the relevant proposals that have been submitted to the court -- the plaintiffs' plan, the plans of the governor, the assembly, the Regents, and that of the city of New York. After converting all the proposed dollar figures in the respective proposals into comparable 2004-2005 dollars, plaintiffs' brief finds a remarkable consistency: all proposals agree that New York City's schools need $4.3 to $5.6 billion in additional funding to be phased-in over the next 4 to 7 years.

Although the governor has acknowledged that at least $4.3 billion is needed, he provides only $1.7 billion in state funds (half of which is projected and not guaranteed) and proposes that the rest be attributed to "projected" federal aid and mandated city funding. Plaintiffs ask the panel to ensure that whatever dollar figure in the $4.3 to $5.6 billion range that it chooses to accept be mandated funding. Plaintiffs propose an objective formula for determining the city/state share and emphasize the importance of capital funding, which has been completely ignored by the governor.

The brief also reviews the positions of the plaintiffs, the governor, the assembly, and the Regents on accountability issues and focuses on the areas of agreement and disagreement. It recommends that the parties be given until September 30 to try to resolve these outstanding differences. If agreement is not reached, it proposes that the matter be submitted to the panel for resolution.

Although the plaintiffs set forth a detailed critical analysis of the successful schools costing-out study used by the governor,the brief recommends that lengthy hearings on the details of the costing-out studies are not necessary, due to the consensus between both parties that substantial funding is needed for New York City. Read the full text of CFE's September 1 brief (PDF format).

The defendant's brief argues that the panel should consider only the governor's legislative plan, ignoring the position of the legislature and the Regents. They also assert that the plaintiffs' plan and costing-out study are not properly before the panel. The panel's charge, they believe, is to consider whether the governor's plan, if enacted, would meet the Court of Appeals' remedy requirements, and that if the panel finds specific deficiencies in the plan from that perspective, it should correct them. Nevertheless, should the panel decide to consider the plaintiffs' plan, the brief provides an extensive critique of the methodology of the costing-out study based on the professional judgment approach that the plaintiffs have endorsed.

Defendants present no formula for determining the city/state share of necessary funding increases, holding that this issue is beyond the panel's jurisdiction. The brief also presents no position on the capital funding issues.

Defendants describe in detail their proposal on accountability, which they assert corresponds to plaintiffs' position on many key points. They also take the position that the panel's "report and recommendation could [be] issue[d] based on the information presently before the panel" without further extensive testimony. Read the full text of the State's September 1 brief (PDF format).

September 2, 2004

Parents from across the state march on the Capitol in Albany to show support for CFE.
CFE Litigation CFE v. State of New York
In 2006, after 13 years in the Courts, the New York State Court of Appeals affirmed the right of every public school student in New York to the opportunity for a sound basic education and the state’s responsibility to adequately fund this right, but deferred to the Governor and the Legislature to determine the appropriate amount. more >