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NY Votes Today on $700 Million in School Funding


Tuesday, May 15, 2007   

Voters are heading to the polls today to vote on school budgets around the state. Collectively, local districts are proposing $700 million in tax increases. Because of the recent $1.7 billion school funding increase from the state, educators are worried voters will stay home thinking there's already enough money to meet all the educational needs.

But Richard Iannuzzi, president of New York's teacher's union, says that money is there to meet extra education needs, not for the funds needed simply to keep the lights on at school.

“The State has made a commitment to make that happen, and it wasn't intended to be a commitment to replace the local commitment.”

If budgets are voted down, districts may have to go on austerity plans, which would mean cutting back on athletics and after school programming.

Matthew Maguire with the Business Council of New York believes state taxpayers are overpaying for their kids' education.

“The situation here is where you have a state that spends like the New York Yankees and gets results like the New York Knicks. If you look at studies of so-called college readiness rates, things like that, New York tends to come out in the middle of the pack.”

Collectively, budgets put before voters increase education taxes by $700 million dollars. Tim Kremer of the New York School Boards Association says that's the amount needed just to maintain New York's high standard of education. The state is often ranked in the top ten in national comparisons.

“It might give the impression that we are just being greedy, but we have health care costs that are going up at 11 percent this year, pension costs are off the charts compared to just three years ago, and special education costs have gone up billions and billions of dollars.”

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