Senators Call For Appeal Of Cfe Ruling

Charles J. Fuschillo Jr.

February 18, 2005

Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (8th Senate District) joined fellow Senators Michael A.L. Balboni, Kemp Hannon, Carl L. Marcellino and Dean Skelos in calling on Governor Pataki to appeal the order entered Monday in State Supreme Court regarding the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit. The five members of the Long Island Delegation contend that the decision does not consider the inadequate level of contributions from New York City taxpayers as a factor in the lack of quality education.

"Long Islanders pay more than their fair share of taxes and should not be asked to shoulder more of the burden while residents of the city get a tax refund. Our children deserve the education they receive and the approach the courts would like the state to take is not acceptable," stated Senator Fuschillo. "Legislation from the bench is not a fair solution and we must protect the education of the children of Long Island."

In June 2003, the New York State Court of Appeals held that New York City’s schoolchildren were deprived of the "sound basic education" guaranteed by the New York State Constitution. Despite a 56% increase in state education spending since 1995, the court’s order requires New York State to file an appeal within the next 30 days or implement a five-year, $14.8 billion funding increase for New York City’s schools within the next 90 days. After a four-year phase-in period, the order requires $5.63 billion in additional, annual funding for New York City’s schools and another $9.178 billion in capital spending.

Pursuant to the court order, Long Island school districts would receive about half of the future aid to which they are entitled under traditional state funding formulas. Last year, the State Senate passed its LEARN Act to address the Campaign for Fiscal Equity decision to provide hundreds of dollars in property tax rebates to each Long Island homeowner.

Between the 1994-95 and 2001-02 school years, the percentage of New York City’s total education budget derived from local tax dollars fell from 50% to 41.4%, with the state’s share rising from 41.9% to 51.3%. In comparison, state aid constituted only 25.44% of the average Nassau County’s school district’s total spending in the 2001-02 school year.

According to an analysis conducted by the Long Island Association, "City taxpayers could absorb the entire $5.63 billion in additional education costs through direct City taxes and still bear a tax burden in 2009 only equivalent to that borne by Long Island taxpayers in 2000."

"Long Island school districts are as good as they are because the people who live here pay a high cost and to say otherwise is untrue. The time has come for New York City to contribute its fair share to fund its schools. All children deserve a good education but we should not fix one problem by creating another," concluded Senator Fuschillo.