Corwin, Smardz, Walter Rail Against Taxpayer-Funded Plastic Surgery

Assembly members fight for sane spending
February 24, 2012

Assemblywoman Jane Corwin (R,C,I- Clarence) and Assemblymen Kevin Smardz (R,I- Hamburg) and Ray Walter (R,C,I- Amherst) are calling for an end to taxpayer-funded cosmetic surgery for Buffalo public school teachers. The provision, which currently costs the district $5.2 million annually, allows teachers to receive cosmetic procedures at no personal cost – the equivalent of 100 teachers’ average annual salary. Since local plastic surgeons began advertising in the teachers union’s newsletter, one local doctor received $4 million from the Buffalo City School District in 2009 alone. The group of lawmakers point to a misguided state law discouraging fair contract negotiations between state government and public employees as the reason for this catastrophe.

“While some may argue that our state’s education funding system is in need of a facelift, I doubt this is the type of facelift they meant. As we continue looking for ways to make our state more efficient and effective, we need our schools to be a partner in that. Clearly, subsidizing teachers’ personal expenses is not in the best interest of our children – or the best use of taxpayer dollars,” said Corwin.

“The use of taxpayer money to cover cosmetic surgeries like facelifts is a serious misuse of resources during these economically trying times,” said Smardz. “At a time when Buffalo City School administrators are facing a potential $42 million deficit, our priority must be keeping teachers in the classroom and books on the shelves, not frivolous beauty procedures. There is no better time than now for the administration, and the teachers’ union, to sit down at the bargaining table and hammer out a deal that puts our city’s schoolchildren first.”

“While Western New Yorkers are struggling to pay their property taxes, electric bills and other expenses, forcing them to hand over money for public employees’ plastic surgery is just plain wrong,” said Walter. “This absurd problem is indicative of a systemic issue in New York State law, and until we change the way we spend in this state, taxpayers and schoolchildren will continue to suffer.”

At the heart of the issue is New York State’s decades-old Triborough Amendment. Under the amendment, City of Buffalo school teachers remain under an outdated contract which expired in 2004. However, current law dictates that public employees are allowed to continue working under the terms of their expired contract until there is a new agreement. This means that their benefits and yearly salary increases remain in effect under the terms of the expired contract.