Senator John Flanagan (2nd Senate District) recently addressed the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) Retiree Council 23 at their Fall Luncheon. The forum, which was recently held at the Watermill Inn in Smithtown, presented Senator Flanagan with the opportunity to speak to the members about the issues facing their communities and to hear what was on the minds of the former educators.
As part of the discussion, Senator Flanagan provided the group with a comprehensive review of last spring's state budget negotiations. He also warned them that the budget fight of last year, which resulted in record school aid for Long Island, will probably be repeated in the upcoming year.
In discussing the budget battle, Senator Flanagan described how the Senate fought with Governor Eliot Spitzer to make sure that Long Island school districts received their fair share and that the region's homeowners were spared from debilitating tax increases.
Governor Spitzer's original budget called for 108 of the 121 schools on Long Island to receive the bare minimum in aid. That proposal was rejected by the Senate and, due to the Long Island delegation's efforts, our region's schools received a record $220 million in state aid. This amounted to an increase of over $109 million over Governor Spitzer's proposal.
Senator Flanagan also informed the attendees that Governor Spitzer had sought to eliminate the Rebate NY program and the high tax aid program that delivered millions to Long Island. Due to the efforts of the Senate, both programs were reinstated and enhanced after the Senate negotiated with the governor and the Assembly.
But Senator Flanagan warned that the fight will begin again in January when Governor Spitzer unveils his new budget proposal. He asked the NYSUT members to pay close attention and to work with him to make sure that the governor provides Long Island with the state aid it deserves and to deliver real tax relief to Long Island homeowners.
"These members were on the front lines of our schools and they understand the importance of a quality education. So I appreciate the opportunity to speak to them about the fight to get school aid to Long Island and the need to make sure that our children get their fair share," stated Senator Flanagan. "I look forward to working with them to get the message to Albany that our region is important and that we deserve our fair share."
The New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) Retiree Council 23 is comprised of eleven retiree chapters throughout the area. The council includes retired school personnel from the Cold Spring Harbor, Comsewogue, Elwood, Harborfields, Huntington, Kings Park, Northport-East Northport, Port Jefferson, Sachem, Smithtown and Three Village school districts.
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