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State legislators, taxpayers, students, educators, small business owners and labor leaders are strongly urged to take part in a bipartisan education and taxpayer rally to fight Governor David Paterson's proposed multi-million dollar education aid cuts to Long Island's schools, which were revealed in his 2009-2010 proposed executive budget.

The rally will be held Saturday, Feb. 28 from 11 a.m. to noon at Ellsworth Allen Park, located on Motor Avenue in Farmingdale.

Among those planning to attend is State Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (R.-Freeport), who represents much of the Massapequa area in Albany.

"Allowing Governor Paterson to cut $147 million from Long Island's schools would compromise the quality of our children's education and lead to massive school tax increases for homeowners and small businesses," said Senator Fuschillo. "Each and every Long Islander is affected by these cuts, and I urge everyone to join us in fighting these harmful education aid cuts."

Senator Fuschillo said that state legislators, taxpayers, students, educators, small business owners, and labor leaders will all be joining together at the rally. He also noted that the success of a similar rally last year 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. This year, with homeowners already overtaxed and feeling the strain of a bad economy, we need to fight once again to protect our students and taxpayers," Senator Fuschillo added.

On Dec. 16, 2008, more than one month prior to the constitutional deadline, Governor Paterson delivered a balanced executive budget, which, he said, would eliminate the largest budget deficit in New York State history. "The decision to recommend a reduction in school aid is a personally difficult one for me," Governor Paterson said while announcing the executive budget. "During my time in the Legislature, I was one of the strongest advocates for increased education funding. 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."

State Senator Kemp Hannon (R.-Garden City), who represents North Massapequa in the state capitol, thinks it's just not feasible to gut school funding on Long Island.

"Residents are losing their jobs, home values are down and this is not the time to take away this money - which will result in school tax increases across the board come May," he said. "The effect of this is compounded since the budget proposes to eliminate STAR Rebate checks - a de facto tax increase on Long Island homeowners. The executive branch pledged to do something about property taxes on Long Island. Last year, we passed a tax cap. Since then, there has been no movement on the issue. As I have said time and again, you cannot balance the budget on the backs of Long Islanders."

Residents can get additional information about the rally by calling Senator Fuschillo's office at 882-0630 or visiting his website, www.senatorfuschillo.com.

(Joe Scotchie contributed to this article.)


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