To provide Long Islanders with an opportunity to voice their support for Long Island school children and taxpayers, Senator John J. Flanagan (2nd Senate District) today announced that he is coordinating an Education and Taxpayers Rally in response to Governor Eliot Spitzer's proposed cuts to Long Island schools. The rally, which is open to the public, will be held on Saturday, March 1st at noon at the Ellsworth W. Allen Park on Motor Avenue in Farmingdale .
There will be parking space for a number of cars at the site and members of the Nassau County Police Department will be on-hand to assist attendees.
Additional parking will available at the Weldon E. Hewitt Middle School  located at 70 Van Cott Avenue in Farmingdale. There will be shuttle buses at the school to transport you to the Education and Taxpayer Rally.
The rally will bring together Long Islanders from a wide variety of organizations to call on Governor Spitzer to restructure his budget to make Long Island's children and taxpayers a priority. To illustrate the negative impact the proposed budget would have on the entire Long Island economy, Senator Flanagan and his Long Island Senate Majority colleagues are coordinating the rally with business organizations, education leaders and community groups.
Governor Spitzer's 2008-2009 budget proposal calls for dramatic reductions in state aid to Long Island schools. That includes providing Long Island schools, which educate 17% of the students statewide, with only 8% of the increased funding for education.
The budget also eliminates close to $9 million for special education to our region, removes over $9 million in high tax aid for Long Island and strips Long Island of over $18 million in BOCES funding.
"It is clear that Long Island is at the bottom of the list of priorities for Governor Spitzer and we must join together to show him that we will not accept less than our fair share. This budget will require a majority of our school districts to survive on the bare minimum increase and that will place more of the burden on our already overburdened taxpayers. That will adversely impact the entire Long Island economy and all Long Islanders will feel the effects," stated Senator Flanagan.
This year's shortchanging of the region is reminiscent of last year when Governor Spitzer introduced a budget that would have severely reduced aid for Long Island schools and resulted in massive tax increases for Long Island homeowners. That budget was rejected by Senator Flanagan and his Senate colleagues during budget negotiations.
Their successful efforts resulted in a Long Island receiving a record school aid increase of $220 million - which was more than double what was originally proposed by Governor Spitzer. It also preserved two very valuable programs - High-Tax Aid that delivered over $70 million to Long Island schools and the Rebate NY program that delivered millions to the region's homeowners - that were originally eliminated from the Executive's budget.
With the budget deadline approaching, Senator Flanagan is hoping that the March 1st rally will help in this year's upcoming budget negotiations: "We have a loud voice when we join together and this event will let Governor Spitzer know that we will not accept less than our fair share. We fought back a bad budget last year and together we can overturn this budget. We need to show that we are united and that our children and our overburdened taxpayers deserve better."
Those attending the rally will be provided with postcards that will allow them to voice their opinion on the budget directly to Governor Spitzer.
Those who are unable to attend the upcoming rally can voice their support by clicking here .