State Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (8th Senate District) and his fellow Senators recently joined together with over 1,500 parents, education officials, labor leaders, and community leaders at a taxpayer rally to protest Governor Eliot Spitzer’s proposed cuts to Long Island’s state education aid.
Senator Fuschillo said, "Cutting state education aid to Long Island, as Governor Spitzer proposes, will harm our students’ education and cause higher school taxes for homeowners and small businesses. Long Island’s taxpayers deserve their fair share of school aid, not funding cuts and tax increases. This rally was an opportunity for the entire community, from parents and education officials to civic leaders and small business owners, to join together and fight for our fair share of state education aid."
Shouting chants of "we want our fair share!," rally participants objected to the fact that while 17% of New York State’s children are enrolled in Long Island schools, only 8.2% (down from 13% in the 2007-08 state budget) of the Governor’s proposed increase is targeted for Long Island school funding.
Education groups and taxpayers came to the Senators offering to partner in the rally after they saw the drastic cuts in the Governor’s budget, and to help the Senators restore the funding as they did last year when Governor Spitzer proposed cutting Long Island school funding.
Vincent Lyons and Judith Chen, Co-Chairs of the Long Island Education Coalition said in a joint statement, "Simply stated Governor Spitzer's 2008 school aid formula is built upon the myth that Long Island taxpayers are able to bear a disproportionate share of the cost of public education. The truth is that this region’s inequitable share of state aid endangers its high quality public schools and overburdens the local property tax base. It was only through the successful efforts of the Long Island Senate Majority delegation that last year Long Island districts were rescued from being 'flat-lined' under the Governor’s budget, thereby mitigating local property tax increases. The Governor has targeted Long Island for even further cuts this year and we are once again calling upon our senate delegation to spearhead the resistance to the state’s shifting more of its school funding responsibility onto the local property tax base."
Matt Crosson, President, Long Island Association said, "All Long Islanders ask for from the State is fairness. In Governor Spitzer’s budget, they did not get it. 60% of all districts statewide that would suffer a cut in aid under the budget are on Long Island. Is that fair? Ten lower wealth school districts educating 73,000 children would receive only the minimum. Is that fair? In the budget debate to come in Albany, all Long Islanders will stand united behind our legislative delegation to demand fairness for Long Island, for its children, and for its taxpayers. The rally was only the beginning of our fight."
Taxpayers expressed great frustration that Long Island’s average aid increase is one-third the state average, with 39% of state school aid headed for New York City schools. Budget breakdowns show that the Governor’s budget has $9.1 million less in High Tax Aid which will be detrimental in high tax communities. Overall, 46 out of 77, or 60%, of schools in New York State with a projected aid loss are on Long Island .
Also, $18.5 million less in BOCES aid and $8.7 million less in Supplemental Excess Cost Aid means school districts would have to bear a greater share of these costs. The Governor’s Foundation Aid proposal pours money into New York City to the detriment of Long Island schools. This proposal comes only months after school districts were promised that Foundation Aid would be predictable and dependable for future years. He originally promised a $1.25 billion increase this year in the formula, but instead offers only $899 million and cut the maximum increase districts may receive.
Senator Fuschillo has created an online petition that residents can sign to join him in calling on Governor Spitzer to give Long Island its fair share of state education aid. Residents can sign the online petition by visiting his website at www.senatorfuschillo.com and clicking the "join the fight" link at the top of the homepage.
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