The GEA or Gap Elimination Adjustment is a little known, but very costly item created by the State of New York. As the Governor prepared the state budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year, he had to address an anticipated $10 billion deficit. To help fill that “gap” in the state budget the “gap elimination adjustment” was created. To start, the State froze Foundation Aid, the largest educational aid category, at 2008-09 levels. Then a formula based on district wealth was used to define an “adjustment” to the aid. The adjustment amount is then deducted from every school district’s aid before the checks are sent out, resulting in reduced state aid for schools.
This “adjustment” has continued in subsequent state budgets. While the next few budget years still had to address deficit conditions as a result of the Great Recession, the state has emerged from those budgetary crises and had a multi-billion dollar surplus in the last fiscal year. Despite that surplus, the GEA continued in the last budget and in the Governor’s budget proposal, is not planned to be removed from the budget for at least two more years. Since the initial imposition of the GEA, New York State school districts have lost almost $10 Billion in promised aid. The table below shows the statewide aid lost each school year.
• 2010-11 $1,412,150,549
• 2011-12 $2,556,482,217
• 2012-13 $2,156,286,074
• 2013-14 $1,638,788,735
• 2014-15 $1,036,669,680
• 2015-16 $433,599,665
Details for your individual school district can be found here in a spreadsheet created by NYSUT. Use the drop down box at the top of the page to find your numbers.
At the beginning of the GEA, some of the impact was offset by an infusion of federal dollars under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, known as ARRA. However the new money also came with new strings and mandates, meaning it did very little to offset the loss of money under GEA. In addition, the ARRA dollars were short-lived, while GEA continues to this day, still withholding money to fill a gap that no longer exists.
The GEA, along with frozen foundation aid, limited federal aid, and the 2% Tax Levy Cap, have caused districts to make significant cuts to staff and programs. Since the State no longer has a “gap” in their budget, there is no logical reason for the state to continue this annual cut in funding to school districts. The GEA must be eradicated from the State budget this year.