Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Earlier this week Governor David Paterson began his $175 million “Back to School” program intended to help low-income families with school-related purchases for their children. The program is funded through a $35 million donation from George Soros and $140 million in federal taxpayer money. Eligible families received $200 per child in a one-time cash allowance distributed through their Electronic Benefit Transfer program.

While I agree that it is important that all of New York’s students have the tools necessary to succeed in the classroom, this program lacked transparency in its creation and contains no oversight provisions to hold recipients accountable for how they spend the money. As a result, instead of this money going toward classroom materials for the upcoming year, many recipients are making non-school related purchases.

This program is just another example of New York’s irresponsible use of federal stimulus money and the flawed fiscal policy coming from Albany. Instead of simply giving this money away, the state could have used some of these funds to restore the STAR Rebate checks eliminated in this year’s state budget, a budget which also increased welfare payments, while raising taxes and fees on our families and local businesses.

This past year, middle-class New Yorkers have seen their taxes increase to the point of being unaffordable. Now Governor Paterson is giving away their tax dollars to welfare recipients in an attempt to answer our state’s problems. I call on him to terminate this irresponsible program. If he really wants to help New Yorkers, the Governor should start by decreasing our tax burden, thus eliminating the need for a cash giveaway program like this.


Steve Hawley

Member of Assembly

139th District