Friday, 03 June 2011 00:00
Let’s be clear: a 2 percent tax cap on school districts fails to address the root causes of our ever-increasing tax burden.
Politicians and special interest groups can trumpet the tax cap all they want, but homeowners across New York will find their taxes continuing to rise unless their elected officials get serious about relieving local schools of millions of dollars of costs tied up in state mandates that do nothing to advance student achievement.
Unfortunately, lawmakers have focused strictly on limiting a school district’s ability to raise revenue. This will undoubtedly force officials to lay off employees and cut spending on classroom programs, sports and other extracurricular activities in order to pay for mandated costs.
School boards should be able to invest every dollar they can into academic programs and services for students rather than outdated mandates, inflexible rules and expensive procedures.
NYSSBA issued an online poll today regarding the tax cap in which an overwhelming 93 percent of the more than 300 school members who responded said that mandate relief needed to be addressed before a tax cap is considered.
This includes reforming the state pension system, capping health insurance costs, reducing the cost of teacher disciplinary procedures, curtailing special education mandates, reforming the Triborough Amendment so school districts can freeze salaries after a contract expires, and allowing schools to use national cooperative contracts.
In order to make a property tax cap have a positive impact, we urge Gov. Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Silver and Senate Majority Leader Skelos to enact reforms that will once and for all address the true cost drivers that drive up local tax rates.