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Campaign for Fiscal Equity

CFE, State, and City Presented Oral Arguments During Hearing of Special Masters

On September 15, the parties presented oral arguments to the panel of referees appointed by Justice DeGrasse to deal with the state's non-compliance in CFE v. State. In its argument, the defendants maintained that the referees' authority is limited to determining whether or not the governor's proposal, if adopted by the legislature (and perhaps, if modified) would constitute compliance with the Court of Appeals' order in CFE. v. State. The defendants claimed that the referees do not have any authority to choose among the plans submitted to the referees, nor make any proposals regarding a dollar amount or funding system that would provide New York City students with the opportunity for a sound basic education. When asked by Justice Milonas whether the referees' power is akin to grading a term paper and nothing more, defense counsel replied "yes." The defendants also contended that the referees' authority applied only to operating aid and that capital expenditures were beyond their purview.

Contrary to the arguments of the defendants, lawyers for the plaintiffs argued that the panel certainly has the authority to direct a remedy in this case. Plaintiffs pointed out that the Court of Appeals gave the state one year, until July 30, 2004, to remedy the constitutional defects in school funding, but that the state failed to do so.

The plaintiffs further argued that the five plans submitted to the referees -- CFE's, the governor's, the assembly's, the Regents', and the city's -- are not far apart in dollar amounts. They pointed out that there is a proposed range of $4.3 billion to $5.6 billion a year in additional funds, using consistent 2004-2005 dollars. Plaintiffs therefore asked the panel to consider ordering funding in this range for the city, phased-in over four years. The precise amount should be determined by a comprehensive four-year plan, plaintiffs argued, developed by the city with extensive input from parents, teacher, and other interested stakeholders.

Building aid is an integral part of providing students with a constitutionally adequate education, the plaintiffs also stated, and therefore must be a part of the referees' and the court's order.
The City of New York, though not a party to the litigation, was also permitted to present oral argument. In its argument, the city supported CFE's dollar amount and request for capital expenditures, and further asked the panel to include in its remedy a plan for eliminating certain contractual provisions that it believes are impeding its ability to provide qualified teachers in all schools.

The panel will announce on Tuesday, September 21, the next steps in these compliance proceedings.

September 15, 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 >