Senator Flanagan Joins Students and Taxpayers to Rally for Long Island

John J. Flanagan

March 04, 2009

Senator John Flanagan (2nd Senate District), along with members from both parties in the New
York State Senate and Assembly, joined with over 1,200 taxpayers and students from across Long Island to fight for Long Island’s fair share of education funding.  The protest was held a day after Governor David Paterson utilized federal stimulus funding to partially fill the over $185 million hole he created in his original budget.

“While there is some relief that the education funding problem the Governor created has been partially fixed, Long Islanders are tired of having to fight for their fair share.  Our region has been shortchanged by the state for a long time and that has to change,” stated Senator Flanagan the Ranking Republican Member of the Senate Standing Committee on Education.  “All Governor Paterson did was use someone else’s money to clean up his mess and that is the wrong approach.  We rallied together to tell him that next year, instead of creating the hole in the first place, offer the entire state a fair budget.  Then Long Island taxpayers and children can be assured that their state and their governor are working for them.”

The Education and Taxpayer Rally, which was held at the Ellsworth W. Allen Park in Farmingdale, was organized by the region’s State Senate delegation and education, labor and business leaders to help Long Islanders voice their opinion to the leaders in Albany.

Those who joined Senator Flanagan at the rally let Governor Paterson know that his attempts to balance his budget on the backs of the region’s homeowners and businesses by placing even more of the burden on their shoulders was unacceptable.  His statewide plan cuts education aid to some districts with a scalpel while others – especially suburban ones – get cut with an axe.

“I was pleased to see Long Islanders and state officials rallying for our children and school districts. The message continues to be that we only want our fair share of education funding. We appreciate and will continue to support elected officials like Senator Flanagan who support public education and stands by our side seeking equity,” said Karen Lessler, President of the Middle Country School Board.

"We in Commack are very concerned about continuing the outstanding educational program that we have. 
 Senator Flanagan is joined by members of the Commack School District community to call for Long Island’s fair share of education funding.  From left to right: Commack Board of Education President MaryJo Masciello, Superintendent of Schools Dr. James Feltman, Commack PTA Council President Laura Werner, and Assistant Superintendent for Business Laura Newman.
We welcome Senator Flanagan's help, and the help of all of the Long Island delegation to the Legislature, in assuring that Long Island's residents get their fair share of state aid to education,” added Commack Board of Education President MaryJo Masciello.

Under Governor Paterson’s original budget proposal, Long Island schools, which educate 17% of the students in the state, would bear 23% of the statewide cut to education and lose over $147 million.  That unfair cutting comes on the heels of Long Island being short-changed by a formula that has consistently provided Long Island with only 13% of school aid statewide.

Even with the stimulus money, the inequity in education funding allocations has annually placed an unfair burden on the taxpayers and businesses throughout the region and now they are being asked for more.

The absence of a fair statewide education funding formula is compounded by Governor Paterson’s effort to eliminate the New York STAR Middle Class Property Tax rebate program which has delivered property tax rebates directly to homeowners across the region.

Additionally, Long Island school districts may be faced with another $24.4 million hit under the proposed  
payroll tax that is currently being pushed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).  That proposal hits all employers, including school districts, with a one-third of one percent tax on all wages to support the MTA.

And that cost would be transferred to the taxpayers and hurt their ability to live on Long Island.

“Governor Paterson is trying to balance his budget on the backs of Long Islanders and it is time for the state to realize that Long Islanders deserve better.  Every time he reduces aid, increases a tax or introduces a new fee, Governor Paterson makes it harder for Long Islanders to afford to stay here.  Long Islanders pay their fair share and they deserve the same in return,” added Senator Flanagan.  “We all agree that the economy is difficult but there is no way that burden of fixing this problem should be placed solely on the shoulders of our region.”

Residents who were unable to attend the Education and Taxpayers Rally can voice their support for Long Island children and taxpayers by clicking here.