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Governor’s Budget Calls for Cuts in School Aid

Local School Districts to See Reductions

Governor David Paterson unveiled his executive state budget for 2010-2011 last week and it includes cuts in state aid to schools that may be felt in next year’s school budgets.

“Since the day I became governor, I have warned that New York is facing an inevitable fiscal reckoning,” Paterson said. “There are no more easy answers. We cannot keep spending money that we do not have. Significant spending reductions are necessary if we want to emerge from this crisis and build a strong fiscal and economic recovery. Together, through shared sacrifice, we will move forward toward a more hopeful and optimistic future for New York.”

Paterson is aiming to eliminate a $7.4 billion deficit. As part of his budget, he is proposing $1.1 billion year-to-year reduction in school aid, targeted progressively based on local school district wealth and student need.

The governor is also proposing $1 billion in Medicaid and health care savings, including reductions to providers and various programs, enhanced Medicaid fraud recovery efforts, and other measures.

“We need to control spending and streamline state government in New York. This is necessary for today, for next year when federal stimulus funding runs out, and for future generations of New Yorkers. To that end, efforts in this proposed budget to freeze and roll back unfunded mandates and consolidate state agencies are to be commended. It also upholds the state’s commitment to make schools whole from MTA payroll tax,” said Senator Craig Johnson, who represents the 7th Senate District, which includes Elmont and Franklin Square. “However, there is a lot of pain in this document and that has to be examined. I am looking forward to a sensible, bi-partisan and realistic discussion on a final budget. The residents of Long Island and New York deserve no less.”

As a way to raise revenues, Paterson is proposing an increase in the cigarette tax as well as a tax on sugary beverages. The proposed cigarette tax would increase from $2.75 to $3.75 per pack and the tax on sugary beverages amounts to an approximately one cent per ounce increase in the cost of soft drinks.

Under the Governor’s budget, the West Hempstead School District would see an $853,319 or 9.8 percent reduction in state aid; the Elmont School District would see a $1,808,309 or 8.74 percent reduction; the Franklin Square School District would see a $298,302 or 4.56 percent reduction; the Sewanhaka Central High School District $3,596,899 or 12.09 percent reduction and the Valley Stream Central High School District would see a $2,547,202 or 14.92 percent reduction for the 2010-2011 school year.

The State Legislature, which is comprised of the Assembly and the Senate, must now agree on a budget proposal. Assemblyman Tom Alfano, who represents the 21st Assembly District, which includes Elmont, Franklin Square, West Hempstead and North Valley Stream, is prepared to reject the budget proposal on the grounds that it will cause taxpayers to have to pay more property taxes.

“This budget says one thing to taxpayers — it causes them to pay more and more. I’m shocked that the Governor hasn’t gotten the message that the tax increases have to stop. Last year, Governor Paterson and his allies in the State Senate cut our regional share of school aid, cut STAR Rebate checks, raised CUNY and SUNY tuitions, cut health care and raised taxes and fees like it was nothing. Now we’re finding out that they’re not done with Long Island. They want more. It’s a disgrace,” said Alfano.