The news has been positive since we last chatted! Library workers were prioritized to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as part of the government and not-for-profit worker phase. Personally, I’m a week away from shot #2 and I’m super psyched! Many of my coworkers and community members are getting inoculated, and it’s great to finally have some hope against the pandemic.
Budget news has been positive as well. The New York State Senate and Assembly ignored the Governor’s proposed reductions and made sure that our state funding for 2021-22 is stable from last year and construction aid is restored to our 2019 level. No cuts are good news. The state budget also includes some targeted aid that libraries can compete for against schools and not-for-profits. No cuts are good news. Bullet Aid is great if you can get it. But increasing aid in a stable fashion would be MUCH better news.
Aid to schools increased wonderfully and dramatically in this state budget. Fully funding Foundation Aid for K-12 schools is a majestic step forward in our education system and I give a resounding “Huzzah!!!” to our legislators for making that happen.BUT-BUT-BUT why are libraries still not receiving full funding under Education Law?
In 2020 Library Aid Funding should have been $102.6 million but the appropriation was only $94.2 million and 20% of that held back due to COVID-19, bringing actual Aid received to only $75.3 million. More than $125 million in statutory State Library Aid has been withheld since the fiscal year 2007-08 alone. Going back to 1991, we're talking about $1.04 billion!
So please, thank your legislators for restoring funding this year. And then remind them that Library Aid Funding is woefully below where it should be as per Education Law. And give them fair warning that next year we’re expecting full funding of State Library Aid, going back to 1991 and going forward to the future.
FYI: NYLA has an Advocacy Engagement to thank your legislators that are active NOW. Send an email to your legislator today!