Raia, Conte Fight For Long Island Schools’ “Fair Share”

Reject One-House Assembly Majority Sponsored Budget that Shortchanges LI
March 13, 2007

Saying it was an issue of “basic fairness” for Long Island schools and taxpayers, Assemblymen Andrew Raia (R,C,I,WF-East Northport) and Jim Conte (R,C,I,WF-Huntington Station) voted – and spoke out against – Assembly Majority sponsored one-house bills that would have severely short-changed Long Island taxpayers and school districts.

“When it comes to education aid for Long Island school districts, I’ve fought for more aid to help alleviate the property tax burden faced by Long Island families and seniors,” Conte said. “This year is no different. The fact of the matter is a three percent increase is simply not enough given that Long Island schools educate nearly 18 percent of New York state’s students. I am hopeful Governor Spitzer and the Assembly Majority will change their course and do what’s right for Long Island taxpayers and join in my fight to ensure our community gets its fair share.”

“The Assembly Majority has advanced a number of one-house budget bills that would be absolutely devastating to Long Island families,” Raia said. “These bills continue a pattern of robbing taxpayers to subsidize other parts of the state. It is time to stand up against the Robin Hood effect that leaves Long Island taxpayers suffering from the highest property tax burden in the country. If this pattern continues, taxpayers will vote down Long Island school budgets in record numbers, leaving the fiscal future of many school districts in great uncertainty.”

During the legislative session, Conte and Raia focused much of their attention on the fact that the Assembly Majority budget bills continue a pattern started by Governor Spitzer by not providing enough education aid to local school districts. To put the situation in proper perspective, Conte and Raia both cited that while Long Island educates 18 percent of students throughout the state, total education aid to school districts on the Island has dwindled to a mere 12.2 percent.

Another major flaw with the Assembly Majority’s one-house budget proposal was the acceptance of Governor Spitzer’s property tax relief proposal. Under this plan benefits for Long Island homeowners are based on a median household income of $80,000. However, the Long Island Association has recently indicated the average household income for Huntington and the surrounding communities is $101,000. Because of this vast discrepancy, the plan embraced by the Governor and Assembly Majority leave Long Island homeowners at a disadvantage when it comes to property tax relief in comparison to other regions of the state.

The Assemblymen noted another area – environmental aid – where Long Island is shortchanged by the Assembly Majority’s one-house budget bill. The proposed spending plan cuts $14.4 million from the governor’s executive budget to cover a portion of the costs for the implementation of the Long Island Sound Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan.