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State legislators rallied for education aid in Farmingdale Feb. 28.
Photo by Stephen Takacs

Hundreds rallied at Ellsworth Allen Park in Farmingdale Feb. 28, sending a strong message to Governor David Paterson to keep education aid in New York State's budget.

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 in the state legislature.

"The grim reality of our current fiscal situation is that all areas of state spending will have to experience reductions. But I am assured in the knowledge that, even after these actions, New York will still have one of the best-funded education systems in the nation," the governor said in announcing the executive budget late last year.

State legislators, taxpayers, students, educators, small-business owners and labor leaders all took part in the rally, which attracted residents from all over Nassau County.

A similar rally took place last year, which Senator Carl Marcellino said proved critical in helping defeat cuts to Long Island's share of state education aid proposed by then-Governor Eliot Spitzer. "Last year, over 1,500 people from across the Island joined together to fight for our fair share and it worked," he said.

Assemblyman Tom McKevitt, who attended the rally, said he was honored to stand with teachers, librarians, parents, students and his colleagues to rally against the governor's proposed education cuts to Long Island schools.

"Residents on Long Island know that property tax rates are high enough to make any homeowner cringe. Every single year taxes go up and deliver yet another blow to Long Island homeowners who already face some of the highest property tax rates in the state. The reason is simple: The less education funding the state provides, the greater need there is to raise property taxes to cover education costs," McKevitt said.

The assemblyman continued, adding, "This was alarming news given this year's $14 billion budget deficit. To close the budget, the governor proposed $1.1 billion in education cuts this year and another $1.1 billion next year. Long Island schools were expected to shoulder $150 million of these funding reductions. Such drastic cuts would have led to drastic increases in property taxes to make up the difference."

A turn of events brought on by the economic stimulus legislation recently passed in Washington, however, has since eliminated the need for such cuts.

In fact, McKevitt said, the $2.5 billion provided as a result of the legislation covers the proposed cuts by Governor Paterson by $30 million. "However, this is just the first step in assisting Long Island homeowners," he added. "The next step is to make sure the governor provides us with our fair share of this funding. History has shown that Long Island has always had to shoulder a disproportionate share of education funding. The same cannot hold true when it comes time to divvy up $2.5 billion in education funding. Long Island needs our fair share."


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