In response to news of a possible $164 million revenue surplus recently announced by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Assemblyman Mark Johns (R,C-Webster) insisted that, if these funds become available, they must be used to restore school aid upstate. The assemblyman noted that such a move would be beneficial to students, struggling school districts and the taxpayers that support them. Johns blasted the efforts of the Assembly Majority – who have openly discussed the inclusion of political pork spending in the 2012-13 budget – calling it inappropriate and insulting to taxpayers.
“If what Comptroller DiNapoli says is true about a large revenue surplus, I think we’ve got to give it back to our upstate schools, which received a disproportionate amount of cuts over the last few years,” said Johns. “When they cut our kids’ school aid, our property taxpayers have to bear the brunt of the costs. Albany needs to understand that we have a responsibility to the people of this state, and any effort to use their tax dollars for political gain through pork-barrel spending is absolutely irresponsible and reprehensible.”
The four school districts in Johns’ assembly district sustained over $21 million in school aid cuts last year. As outlined in Gov. Cuomo’s budget, these schools will only get about $1 million in school aid restoration – out of $290 million – with downstate schools receiving larger restorations in aid than upstate schools. Johns is troubled by this continuous downstate bias.
Making matters worse are the open discussions the Assembly Majority has had about adding pork-barrel spending to the budget. Reports in February confirmed these talks began before a surplus was even announced, making some in Albany wonder if they would conceal pork-barrel spending by peppering it throughout the budget. Johns is vigilantly looking for such hidden spending and is committed to opposing any efforts to use upstate tax dollars to benefit New York City political pet projects.