At a news conference in Mineola today, Senate Leader Dean Skelos and Senator Kemp Hannon reiterated their strong opposition to any mid-year cuts in state school aid and repudiated comments by Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith who said that he and his conference support mid-year cuts in school aid.
“Senator Smith’s comments about mid-year school aid cuts should concern every property taxpayer in Nassau County and across the state,” Senator Hannon said. “I am not going to go back on my commitment to education or my commitment to property tax relief. Mid-year school aid cuts would hurt our classrooms, reduce the quality of education and result in higher property taxes that we simply cannot afford. At a time when the economy is in trouble and people are losing their jobs, increasing taxes would only inflict more pain on New York families.”
“The bottom line is Senator Smith looks at the suburbs as the first place to cut financial assistance and the last place to add financial assistance,” Senator Hannon added. “The loser is the hardworking homeowner paying the real property tax. This is the ultimate unfunded mandate. The result will be school districts proposing astronomical tax increases in May 2009, resulting in an sharp tax increases or more districts running on austerity. Given this economy, Long Island cannot afford either.”
“It is clear from his statements today in the Buffalo News, that Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith and his conference support mid-year cuts in state school aid, a move that would be disastrous for our schools, our children and for property taxpayers,” Senator Skelos said. “Senator Smith obviously does not understand that this not about politics, it’s about protecting taxpayers.
"Mid-year cuts to education aid must be taken off the table. Their effect would be devastating to Long Island schools,” Matt Crosson, President of the Long Island Association, said. “Our school districts still bear the scars of the last round of mid-year cuts, and that was in the early 1990s. We cannot move New York forward in this economic downturn by undermining education."
“I have said for months that the Senate Majority does not support increasing taxes to close the budget deficit and we oppose mid-year cuts in school aid because it would force school districts to increase property tax increases,” Senator Skelos said. “While Senator Smith and Governor Paterson have indicated that they are willing to go back on their commitment to education, the Senate Majority conference is not.”
“The school aid we receive from our Long Island Senators is vital to our ability to maintain high quality programs that our communities want, expect and value, and which are required for our students to remain a success,” Dr. Robert Feirsen, Superintendent of the Garden City School District, said. “Cutting this aid would have a significant impact on the programs we provide for students and which our educators provide in our school district.
The Senate Majority's Priorities Have Always Been Clear
No Job-Killing Tax Hikes, No Cost Shifts to Local Governments and No Mid-Year Education Cuts
A Timeline of Standing Up for Taxpayers and Schools
June 25 -- "There is no issue that is more important to the people of the State than relief from escalating property taxes. That's the number one agenda, number two agenda and number three agenda. We've got to get together and figure out a way to be bold and come up with initiatives to ease the property tax crunch," Senator Skelos, New York Sun
June 30 -- "I would not support school aid cuts."
-- Senator Skelos, Albany Times Union
July 29 -- "Earlier today, I notified members of the Senate that we will be returning to Albany on August 8th to convene a special session to enact the Governor's property tax cap and pass legislation to reduce costs for schools and ensure adequate resources for students.
-- Senator Skelos statement
July 31 -- While "everything is on the table," he (Skelos) said he won't cut the state's $20 billion in school aid, which received a historic increase in April of about $1.8 billion. He also won't raise taxes or fees.
-- Associated Press
August 11 -- "While we are working cooperatively to get a head start on the 2009-10 State Budget, it's important that the Governor and Legislature not taking any actions that would force local governments to raise their local taxes to make up for a shortfall from Albany. We are concerned that reducing local government assistance funding may have such an effect."
-- Senator Skelos, New York Observer
August 15 -- "The Senate Majority has been clear from the outset that this Budget will not be balanced through mid-year education cuts, State workforce layoffs or cuts that would force local governments to raise their taxes to make up for a shortfall from Albany. Cuts of this nature, midway through the current fiscal year, would be counterproductive and would unnecessarily create hardship."
-- Senator Skelos statement
August 15 -- No to education cuts...no to cuts to local government aid. That's the message from Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos released in anticipation of the August 19 special session.
-- Albany Times Union