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Eight small city districts in New York are suing the state for more funding. The state of New York is spending $1.7 million on fees to experts who testify that the districts do not need more money. This has been one of Governor Cuomo’s favorite lines: “We spend too much on schools already.”
The highest paid witness for the state in Maisto v. New York will receive $208,500, and the taxpayers’ total bill for the expert testimony is $966,950, according to a Capital analysis of state records. The state is also contracted to pay $700,320 to a private firm for the services of attorneys who have expertise in school funding cases.
In the lawsuit, filed in 2008, eight small city districts allege the state is underfunding schools and therefore not fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide students with a “sound, basic education.” The eight districts are Jamestown, Kingston, Mount Vernon, Newburgh, Niagara Falls, Port Jervis, Poughkeepsie and Utica.
The state hired retired superintendents from affluent districts to prepare reports saying that the small city districts do not need more money. In addition, the state hired conservative academics who could be counted on to say that more money doesn’t matter.