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Seaford, Wantagh schools gain in state budget

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As always, the roughly $175 billion state budget passed in the late hours of Wednesday night included winners and losers. But little rejoicing was heard in Albany, as lawmakers struggled to craft provisions for the fiscal year in the face of a crisis landscape that changes daily.

The state’s education budget remained flat year-over-year, according to Seaford Democratic State Sen. John Brooks, but Seaford and Wantagh school districts each gained about a half-million in state aid. Seaford will receive roughly $13.8 million, up from $13.26 million in the year-ago period. and Wantagh will get $17.6 million, an increase from $17.1 million, year-over-year, according to Brooks.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo indicated last week that decriminalizing recreational marijuana was off the table. The new budget tightened provisions in last year’s bail reform and discovery laws, on the one hand adding to the list of charges for which bail could be required or refused; and on the other, extending the period during which municipalities must turn over documents to defendants or their attorneys — the so-called open-file system.

“One of the most remarkable things about the process this year was the way the meetings were carried out,” Brooks said. “All the meetings were conducted online, and some of them went on for five or six hours.”

It is impossible at this point to know what the secondary effects of the COVID-19 virus will be, Brooks added. “We’re in a situation where we don’t know what it will do,” undermining lawmakers’ ability to predict when schools will reopen or businesses return to normal.

“I don’t think we’ll see schools reopen until the next school year,” Brooks said.

“The real question is: What have we learned from this?"