Lifton: Every Child Deserves a Quality Education

May 4, 2004

To say that only New York City children deserve a sound education is absurd. But that’s just what Senator Joe Bruno is doing by suggesting the governor and Legislature should give up and let the courts decide the state’s school aid formula.

Senator Bruno may be ready to throw in the towel, but I am not. He was right to say that weighing the needs of 700-plus school districts is a difficult task, but that does not mean our children should suffer.

The Campaign for Fiscal Equity court order has to be dealt with. It’s a question of whether the judge is going to be allowed to order a decision that only benefits New York City or if we are going to come up with a school funding formula that addresses the needs of all our school children. We cannot allow the state Senate to turn its backs on our communities.

Assembly Majority will stand strong for all children

The Assembly Majority is committed to ensuring that every school district in the state receives the resources it needs to provide a quality education. We believe providing a sound education that prepares our children for their future is not only our constitutional obligation, but our moral obligation as well. In finding a solution, we must not take a "Robin Hood" approach that gives resources to some schools at the expense of others.

Investing in all New York’s schools is the rising tide that will raise all boats – giving all our children the opportunity to succeed. The Assembly will fight to help schools across the state provide students with the skills they need to compete for the jobs of tomorrow. Surely it makes more sense to invest in education now than to pay later for the social costs of inadequate schooling and the resulting low employment and higher crime.

Assembly has a strong record of keeping taxes down, reforming education funding

While the governor takes credit for increasing school funding, the truth is, since he took office, the Assembly has fought to secure $3.8 billion more than his proposals, including $1.1 billion by overriding the governor’s 2003 vetoes.

The Assembly has stood up for reduced class sizes, pre-K and full-day kindergarten, teacher training and school repairs – programs that work – when the governor has proposed cutting them. Since 2001, the Assembly has advocated a two-year education proposal to help schools plan ahead, provide flexibility, guard against property tax hikes, give school districts the chance to plan, to hire, and to provide for the education our children need.

We roundly reject placing the burden on property-taxpayers. In fact, last year the Assembly, working with our partners in the Senate, passed a bipartisan budget that prevented a statewide average 20 percent property tax hike.

The children and families of New York expect the Legislature to make the right choices and protect their best interests, including providing a top-notch education for all children. We were elected to do a job and the Assembly Majority will not rest until that job is done.