Marcellino And Lia Call For Fair Share Of State School Aid

Carl L Marcellino

December 21, 2007


Today, Senator Carl L. Marcellino, the Long Island Senate Majority Delegation, the Long Island Association (LIA), the Long Island Education Coalition (LIEC), the Nassau-Suffolk School Boards Association and the Long Island Federation of Labor AFL-CIO called upon Governor Eliot Spitzer to provide Nassau and Suffolk County school districts with their fair share of state education aid in his forthcoming Executive Budget. At the press conference, they were joined by representatives from various school districts, parent-teacher associations, and labor unions.

"As a former school teacher, administrator and board member, I know that we have no greater responsibility than ensuring the best possible education for our Long Island students while keeping a lid on local school property taxes. It is critical that the State provide the resources needed. That is why I fought so hard to roll back Governor Spitzer’s draconian cuts to Long Island school districts last year and why I am pleased that the LIA is joining us in advocating for both the students and the taxpayers of Long Island," said Senator Carl L. Marcellino (R-Syosset).

"Long Island taxpayers use 20 percent more of their gross household income to pay property taxes than New Yorkers in general. The unfairness of that one fact alone should cause the State to review and revise the manner in which State education aid is distributed," said LIA President Matthew T. Crosson. "Long Island suffers from the inaccurate perception that the region is wealthy. In fact, 34 percent of Long Island students live in school districts whose wealth is below the statewide average. Long Island is predominantly a middle class region whose working people struggle to bear the tax burden placed on them. It’s time Long Island got it fair share of education aid. And that must start with Governor Spitzer’s Executive Budget."

In January, Governor Spitzer will propose his Executive Budget for the 2008-09 state fiscal year. Last year, Governor Spitzer’s first Executive Budget slashed the region’s share of new state school aid from approximately 13 percent of the statewide total to eight percent. Under the Governor’s original multi-year education plan, $60 million of Long Island’s traditional share of new state school would have been redirected to New York City’s schools last year—rising to $304 million in the 2010-11 state fiscal year.

Through the efforts of Long Island’s Senate Majority Delegation, last year’s enacted state budget provided $100 million more state aid for Nassau and Suffolk school districts than the Governor proposed and preserved the region’s traditional 13 percent share. This included over $70 million in special High-Tax Aid for Long Island school districts.

In November, the New York State Board of Regents proposed a $1.94 billion (nearly 10 percent) increase in total state school aid this year. The Board of Regents’ plan would limit most Long Island school districts to a two percent state aid increase, eliminate High-Tax Aid and end Supplemental Excess Cost Aid which provides additional state funding to Long Island school districts with growing special education costs.

"Recognition that Long Island's economic vitality depends on excellent schools has brought together the Long Island Association and Long Island Educational Coalition in advocating for a fairer share of state school funding for this region. A long-standing partner in this endeavor has been the Long Island State Senate delegation. The Long Island Education Coalition joins with our Senators in calling upon Governor Spitzer to adjust his "foundation formula" to adequately fund Nassau and Suffolk schools and relieve the inequitable burden borne by our property taxpayers," said Judith Chen, co-chair Long Island Education Coalition.

"A fundamental flaw in Governor Spitzer's state aid formula is its expectation that Long Island property taxpayers can continue to bear an inequitable share of paying for our public schools. The successful efforts of the Long Island Senate delegation added much needed high tax aid that mitigated 2007 local tax increases. It is reassuring to know that, once again, our Long Island State Senators are committed to press for fair state funding for Nassau and Suffolk schools," explained Jim Kaden, president, Nassau-Suffolk School Board Association.

John Durso, President of the Long Island Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, is also firmly behind the efforts of the Senate delegation and the LIA.

Last March, the LIA and LIEC released a report entitled "The Effect of the 2007-2008 Executive Budget’s Provisions Relating to State Education Aid and STAR Property Tax Relief on Nassau and Suffolk County Taxpayers." In that report, the LIA and LIEC projected that the cumulative impact of Governor Spitzer’s budget proposal would cost Long Island property taxpayers tens of millions of dollars and result in higher residential and commercial property taxes.