Representatives of unions, education associations, school funding advocates and government watchdog groups gathered in the State Capitol today to call for the passage of legislation, pending in both chambers of the State Legislature, that seeks to prohibit industrial development agencies from abating school district taxes.
The pending legislation is sponsored by Sen. Sean Ryan (D-Buffalo) and Assembly Member Harry Bronson (D-Rochester). Both were present at today’s event.
“In Albany, we fight about a lot of things. But there’s one thing we usually don’t fight about. We agree that educating our children is a top priority,” Ryan said. “We pride ourselves on the quality of our schools and that we provide them with enough funding so our children can get a quality education.” New York’s “highly educated” population is the state’s best economic development program, Ryan said.
“While we’re busy making these massive investments in public education, there is a hidden problem exacerbating school budget gaps,” Ryan said. “Year after year, IDAs across the state give corporate handouts that cost New York state school districts millions and millions of dollars,” he said. “When a business is exempted from the property tax, they’re saving money, but they’re saving at the expense of every other taxpayer,” Ryan said.
“We’re playing a constant game of Whack–a-Mole,” the senator said. “IDAs are taking away money, we’re trying to give it back. That’s not how you want to run things.”
Bronson said the State Constitution’s mandate to provide public education cannot be met if property tax dollars are taken away from public education and given to businesses and corporations. “That’s not how you fund public education,” he said.
“We should not have economic development policies funded on the backs of our children,” Bronson said. “We should not have economic development policies, steal money from our public education system, and give it to businesses and corporations.”
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