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Brindisi wants some state surplus money used to end Gap Elimination Adjustment

Ed and Eddie

New York state is sitting on a more than $5 billion budget windfall that it received from several recent bank settlements, but has yet to decide what to do with that money. One Mohawk Valley assemblyman says some should be used to end the state's Gap Elimination Adjustment for school districts.

Since his election in the fall of 2011, Utica-area Democrat Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi has thrown his weight behind promoting education.

"In terms of overall education funding, that's an issue that I continue to address year to year," Brindisi said. "Like I always argue, this is a region here in upstate New York that is not receiving its fair share of education funding. We have so many low to moderate wealth districts. In a place like Utica, we have a large influx of refugees coming into the area which is growing the population, but the education funding has not kept up."

He says part of that is due to the state's Gap Elimination Adjustment, or GEA. The GEA was established in 2010 as a short-term plan to help the state pay down a then deficit of $10 billion. It works by withholding some funding meant for school districts and keeps it in Albany.

Brindisi argues the state is in better financial shape and the mechanism is no longer needed.

"There's about $1 billion left that is owed to school districts from the GEA," Brindisi explained. "And I have advocated for at least $1 billion out of that $5 billion pot going to finally closing the GEA once and for all. I think that's something we can do this year."

Brindisi says the state could return to the school funding formula it used before the GEA, with tweaks made to redistribute funds to school districts that need it the most.