Paterson and Other Governors Wish for $250 Billion for Education

ALBANY—On a conference call this afternoon, David Paterson and four other governors outlined specifics for how they would like to see a $1 trillion federal stimulus shape up, adding a request for education aid.

In addition to money for infrastructure investments and an increase in federal assistance for Medicaid and other social welfare programs, which Paterson called for in a letter to President-elect Barack Obama earlier this week, the governors called for $250 billion to support schools and colleges over a two-year period.

"We do want this to fit together as a package, and not find that the cuts we're having to make are not working at cross-purposes with a federal stimulus," Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle said.

According to Deval Patrick, governor of Massachusetts, the new appropriations would be spread from preschool to colleges and universities. "Our country risks halting or reversing the progress that we've made on education," Patrick said. Doyle recalled his grandparents going to school in the Great Depression, and how similar people led America through World War II and the boom of the 1950s.

After two years, education funding from individual states would return to 2006 levels.

Paterson proposed $700 million in cuts for school aid as well as calling for a tuition increase for public universities, which was enacted by the S.U.N.Y. Board of Trustees. On the call, Paterson acknowledged proposing "exactly what Governor Patrick just warned would be a problem."

Obama has been formulating a stimulus package for states, but details of the size and scope are still in flux. When asked whether the governors on the conference call—which also included New Jersey's Jon Corzine and Ted Strickland of Ohio—had received any indication their proposals may be implemented, Paterson said, "We have to remember that the administration originally reached out to the governors."