Governor’s Budget Fails Test For Long Island Schools And Property Taxpayers

Dean G. Skelos

March 26, 2009

“The Governor’s budget proposal shortchanges our schools and fails to provide the property tax relief Long Island homeowners so desperately need,” said Senator Skelos. “Once again, Governor Spitzer has broken his promise. By denying us our fair share of state school aid and reneging on a commitment to provide homeowners with larger property tax rebate checks, the Governor is attempting to slash the state’s support for Long Island families by $120 million.”

Under Governor Spitzer’s Executive Budget, Long Island school districts would receive approximately 8% of new state school aid. Traditionally, schools in Nassau and Suffolk counties receive 13% of all state education funding. As a result, the Governor’s budget deprives Long Island districts of roughly $70 million.

In addition, Governor Spitzer proposed freezing the continued implementation of the school property tax rebate check program. Under current law, the total amount distributed to homeowners through the property tax rebate checks was scheduled to increase by $300 million this year. The Governor’s Executive Budget freezes the rebate amount to be received by all non-Enhanced STAR eligible seniors. Across Long Island, the Governor’s plan denies homeowners of approximately $50 million in larger rebates they were scheduled to receive this year.

“The Governor’s budget is a mirror image of the plan he proposed last year,” said Senator Skelos. “Governor Spitzer just doesn’t understand the strain that high property taxes place on overburdened Long Island families. During this year’s budget negotiations, I will continue working to ensure that our local school districts receive their fair share of state school aid and that homeowners are protected.”

Earlier this month, Senator Skelos unveiled a plan to dramatically increase the amount homeowners received through the rebate check program. Under Senator Skelos’ proposal, each homeowner’s rebate check would double this year and triple in 2009. To provide additional property tax relief to Enhanced STAR-eligible seniors, their rebate checks would triple in size this year and quadruple in 2009. Further, Senator Skelos’ plan would remove the income restrictions imposed by Governor Spitzer that excluded thousands of local homeowners.