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Assembly Dems Claim Partial Victory In Restoring City School Aid

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As the state Assembly vote on the annual budget gets underway Thursday, assembly Democrats say that the proposed $363 million increase in aid to the city Department Of Education restores a portion of the penalty the governor forced on city public schools when they failed to adopt a teacher evaluation system.

The city DOE lost $240 million from its current school year budget for failing to reach an agreement with the United Federation of Teachers on an evaluation method.

The $135 billion spending plan approved by the state Senate early yesterday morning has the city school system see a 4.6 percent increase in aid, rather than the expected 4 percent.

The 4.6 percent increase in state aid is based on the amount the city DOE received before the $240 million penalty, rather than afterwards.

Addressing reporters yesterday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg thanked supporters in the assembly for helping the five boroughs' schools.

"We really made some progress on education in the budget, and the governor deserves credit and the assembly, particularly [Assembly Speaker] Shelly [Silver], deserves credit for all of that," the mayor said.

"The governor insisted on imposing a penalty which a lot of people couldn't agree with, but the amount of money that we have provided for next year's city schools budget is so large that it neutralized about half the value of the penalty," said Assemblyman James Brennan of Brooklyn.

Governor Andrew Cuomo insisted repeatedly that the original $240 million not be restored to the current city school year budget.

The senate's approved budget also includes an increase in the minimum wage, which will hit $9 an hour by 2016, and a middle-class tax cut for families that will come in the form of a rebate check.

The assembly has until Monday to approve the budget. If it passes before then, it will be the state's third straight on-time budget.

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