Long Island Slighted in Board of Regents Education Aid Proposal

Legislative Column by Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. (R,I,C,WF-Sag Harbor)
December 15, 2008
The Board of Regents recently released their 2009-10 state education aid proposals. The Board of Regents proposal is calling for an $879 million or 4.1 percent increase over the 2008-09 Enacted Budget for a total of $22.2 billion in state aid to education. Unfortunately, with all of the proposed increases to state education aid, most of these increases will go directly to New York City and not to Long Island. In fact, the Board has decided to drastically cut the High Tax aid, which will negatively affect schools throughout the Island. Sadly, itís not a secret that we are facing hard economic times and in times such as these, difficult choices need to be made. Cuts have to occur within the New York State Budget and New York City should not be exempt from these cuts. Education aid needs to be completely thought out and evenly distributed across New York State, which obviously has not occurred.

The Board of Regents is proposing a cut of $155 million in High Tax aid, which was given to school districts in counties with substantial property taxes compared to their district income. The fact of the matter is that the High Tax aid does not help New York City schools. It is primarily distributed amongst schools on Long Island, which is why it will be so easy for the New York City lawmakers to cut it from the budget. If enacted, this proposal would be devastating for Long Islanders, who already face the crushing burden of skyrocketing property taxes. If the Governor chooses to enact this proposal, he will need to find another way to subsidize school districts because without High Tax aid, Long Islanders will find it almost impossible to afford their property tax bills.

The Boardís blatant disregard for Long Island school districts and their students appall me. The governor and the majority of his cabinet live in New York City and it is evident that the City is the only place that they wish to direct education funding to. I am calling on Governor Paterson to stop slighting Long Island and to bring the High Tax aid back into his Executive Budget, which he will be releasing this Tuesday, December 16, 2008. If you have any questions or comments about this issue, please contact me at my district office, 631-537-2583.