Jaffee Calls for Shared Sacrifice in Budgeting to Protect Schools

March 1, 2011

Albany – Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee (D-Suffern) today issued the following statement calling for shared sacrifice in state budgeting decisions in order to protect quality education.

“As we confront our state’s fiscal challenges, there is near-universal agreement on the need for shared sacrifice. Indeed, many worthwhile and necessary programs will unfortunately face cuts in order to meet our responsibility of balancing the state budget.

“However, as we begin to deliberate the difficult choices which must be made, I feel an important consideration has been missing in the debate over the best course forward, and it concerns the issue of fairness in proposed education cuts.

“Under the Governor’s budget, Rockland schools are poised to lose over $20 million in funding as part of an overall reduction of $1.5 billion in state education aid. Based on their detailed analysis of this proposal, area Superintendents have indicated districts will receive far less than what has been projected for this year and next, especially when considering proposed cost shifts to districts.

“This would follow several years of previous state aid cuts and falling school revenues, which have already forced school districts to slash programs and staff significantly.

“But while asking our students to absorb yet more funding cuts in the name of budget balancing, the Governor wants to allow a major source of revenue to expire at year’s end: The ‘millionaire’s tax.’

“This move would be nothing less than a tax break for the wealthiest New Yorkers in the midst of a budget crisis, and is as fiscally irresponsible as it is fundamentally unfair.

“Governor Cuomo campaigned on a pledge of no new taxes, and he can keep his promise while maintaining this progressive source of revenue capable of generating $1 billion this year alone – vital funding to help soften the blow on New York’s schools. In fact, the Division of Budget estimates this high end income tax could generate about $5 billion in 2012-13.

“It’s also worth noting that the Governor ran for office on the promise of creating new jobs. Again, preserving the millionaire’s tax as a means of fully funding education makes sound economic sense.

“We have an obligation to ensure our schools remain world-class centers of learning, not least for the sake of our children’s future, but for the fact that an investment in education is a proven generator of jobs and economic growth.

“Short-changing our schools, students, and economic potential in order to give New York’s richest residents a tax cut is budget balancing done the wrong way.

“I remain committed to making sure the difficult budget decisions ahead protect the quality of education, fall fairly on all New Yorkers, and will continue to encourage my colleagues in Albany to do the same.”