Rochester Leaders Push For State Aid Parity

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Leaders From Rochester were in Albany today lobbying for additional state aid, making a renewed push to gain funding parity with Syracuse and Buffalo.

For more than a decade, Rochester officials have railed against the aid disparity: Rochester received $419 per capita in state aid in this year’s budget, compared with $494 for Syracuse and $617 for Buffalo.

The leaders announced Building a Better Rochester, a coalition of unions and businesses, to push for more state aid for Rochester.

“A lot of time you don’t think labor and management agree a lot but we actually agree on a lot of things,” said Aaron Hilger, president of the Builders Exchange of Rochester. “And we really agree that Rochester needs to achieve its fair share of funding to grow.”

Rochester has long been viewed as upstate’s most affluent area, leading to less state aid than Buffalo and Syracuse. But Rochester Mayor Thomas Richards said that picture is changing, particularly after the bankruptcy of Eastman Kodak last month — long the city’s economic flag bearer.

“We are in a different situation than we have been historically and that different situation needs to get recognized down here,” Richards said.

The group said that Buffalo received the most aid per student at $471 between 2006 to 2011. Rochester received $365 per student, and Syracuse received $338.

Media in Rochester, including Gannett’s Democrat and Chronicle, announced yesterday an advertising initiative to build public support for an “AIM for Fairness” campaign. It launches Friday.

Here’s Richards talking today:

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