Beating the Bushes for $20 Billion in the Big Apple

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Before the court has even weighed in on how to implement the massive funding increase resulting from the recently settled Campaign for Fiscal Equality (CFE) lawsuit, New York's Governor George Pataki and the city's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, are clashing over who's going to pay and how much. Pataki thinks the city ought to pay 40 percent. Mayor Bloomberg is arguing that the state should foot the bill. Various state officials are scratching their heads over how to come up with the requisite $4 billion per year. With an eye towards putting a slot machine on every corner, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R) is claiming that gambling, as well as privatizing a state-owned health insurance plan, could rake in $8 billion per year in revenue. However, Democratic Speaker Sheldon Silver balks at the idea of using gambling money to fund schools: "It's nice that Senator Bruno thinks we should be the gambling capital of the world."

New York may want to look to Maryland to figure out how to fund its mammoth mandate. So far, Maryland has come through with the money needed to fund its 2002 commitment to provide schools with an additional $1.1 billion by 2008, even though the state has been facing huge deficits. While it remains to be seen if Maryland can follow through on the complete commitment--since the largest portion of funding comes due in the next couple of years?the state's effort to date is enough to silence even cynics like us.