Over 1,000 taxpayers, students, and community leaders braved strong winds and cold temperatures at an education and taxpayer rally in Farmingdale to join with State Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (8th Senate District) in calling on Governor Paterson to give Long Island's schools their fair share of state education aid.
Back in December, the governor proposed multimillion-dollar cuts when he revealed his 2009-2010 executive budget. He said the decision is a difficult one, particularly because he said he was one of the strongest advocates for increased education funding while serving the state legislature. Such cuts would harm children and result in massive property increases for homeowners and small businesses, Fuschillo said. While funds from the federal economic stimulus package may avert some of the Governor's proposed cuts this year, Fuschillo said they will not address the funding inequity which results in Long Islanders sending more money up to Albany than they receive back.
"Year after year, Long Island is shortchanged from Albany when it comes to state education aid. We educate 17 percent of the state's children but only receive a 13 percent share of state aid. Long Island's taxpayers should not be used as an ATM to fund the rest of the state, " said Senator Fuschillo. "This rally was an opportunity for the entire community, from parents and education leaders to civic leaders and small business owners, to join together and fight for Long Island's fair share."
Members of the State's Senate and Assembly delegation, along with local education, business, and labor leaders, joined taxpayers.
"As someone who constantly advocates for an increase in education funding to Long Island, I am pleased that once again our efforts are showing a positive effect," added Assemblyman Joseph Saladino (R-Massapeuqa). "For the last five years, I have worked with our senators in securing record increases in New York State aid. While the assembly has yet to approve this year's increase, I am hopeful that the public will assist us in lobbying to ensure that Long Island receives its full and fair share of state revenues and federal stimulus funds. The more money we can force the state to deliver to our schools, the less property tax is required for school budgets."
Democratic politicians like Legislator Dave Mejias (D-Farmingdale) also attended the rally.
"For years we have been short changed by the politicians in Albany," said Legislator Mejias. "There are $3 billion in taxes that Long Island sends to Albany that we don't get back. We cannot afford to be the cash cow for New York State anymore."
Politicians urged those at the rally to call Governor Paterson's office and tell him that Long Island deserves its fair share of state education aid. Residents who were unable to attend the rally but would like to contact Governor Paterson can call his office at 518-474-8390.
(Jaime L. Tomeo contributed to this story.)