Monday, April 14, 2008

Skelos Wants "FAIR SHARE" of School Aid Unless of Course You are a Democratic District

I knew that the whole "fair share" rally held by Skelos and the Dysfunctional Long Island 8 was a crock and now it's been proven. First of all, Skelos, Marcellino, Hannon and Fuschillo have been celebrating mediocrity for years as the accept a lower average for school aid as a victory. It wasn't until school budgets started failing and parents and educators applied pressure that the Skelos 8 started to make education funding a priority.

Now we are seeing that the process for getting more funding for Long Island schools largely depends on what party your state senator belongs to. Skelos is playing politics with our childrens education and that simply cannot stand.

According to the New York Times, "If you look at the amount of property taxes that Long Island homeowners pay, or their wealth as compared to their property tax burden, the aid is relatively low,” said Tom Dunham, a spokesman for Senator Dean G. Skelos, a Nassau County Republican. Mr. Dunham pointed out that while overall aid for Long Island increased, some wealthy districts, like Great Neck, faced decreases in state operating aid.
(Great Neck, as it happens, lies in the district of Long Island’s only Democratic state senator, Craig M. Johnson. Thanks to a separate pot of money controlled and disbursed by Assembly Democrats, even Great Neck and other districts like it had a net increase in state funds.)"

Interesting isn't it.
I have always advocated fully funding schools and codifying an aid formula that works. The system is broken and needs to be fixed before next years budget deadline. That takes political courage which is sorely lacking from the Skelos 8. All districts deserve to be funded, not just some. That is what "fair share" means.
Let's look at the numbers Dunham talks about when it comes to "wealthy districts."
According to Money magazine, the Median Family Income in Great Neck is $108,934 and the average property tax bill is $12,153. Great Neck took a cut of -2.08% from last year.

In Skelos' hometown of Rockville Centre has a Median Family Income of $118,796 and a property tax bill of $7,093. State Aid increased 11.31%

In Hannons hometown of Garden City the median family income is $140,584 and a average property tax bill of $6,938. State Aid increased 1.73%

In Marcellino's hometown of Syosset the median family income is $115,034 and average property tax of $9,618. State Aid increased 8.26%

In Fuschillo's town of Merrick the median family income is $114,484 and average property tax of $7,613. State Aid increased 6.55%

In Democratic Senator Craig Johnson's hometown of Port Washington, average family income is $122,136 and average property tax is $13,515. State Aid was CUT by .72%

See any funny numbers there?

So what does Senator Johnson need to do to stop the cuts since Skelos is playing politics with school funding? He turns to his colleages Assemblyman Chuck Lavine and Assemblywoman Schimel to fill the gap. The Democrats in the Assembly came up with more money so that Great Neck actually received a 0.42 percent increase in overall state funding thanks to $200,000 in Assembly bullet aid and the restoration of $452,843 in high tax aid (Sen. Johnson fought very hard for that, because, as you know there was no way that the republicans were looking out for the 7th)
Port Washington was restored too . With an overall .6 percent thanks to a $50,000 infusion. proposed budget.

From a Johnson press release "This education budget repaired what would have been a disastrous plan for our schools, our children and ultimately all taxpayers," Senator Johnson said. "With this current economic climate, there was a fight for every last dollar. Despite these hardships, we were able to come up with a budget that places an emphasis on education and spares our children from bearing the brunt of this looming financial crisis. I thank Assemblywoman Schimel and Assemblyman Levine for being my partners in this process."

The republicans did the same thing last year after Westchester republican Senator Nick Spano was defeated by Democrat Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Skelos and the republicans went out of their way to screw Westchester on school aid.
"This would never have happened if Senator Nick Spano was still there,” said Senator Dean G. Skelos, the deputy majority leader from Long Island, during a radio interview in New York City last week.

In a later interview, he insisted that Republicans had not sought retribution but that Westchester’s new senator, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and her Democratic colleagues “fell asleep at the switch.”

Ms. Stewart-Cousins replied that the deal was made behind closed doors. “When you have Dean Skelos even pretending that somehow I sat in the chamber and said nothing — as if this were some discussion that was open and aboveboard — it is absolutely ridiculous,” she said.

Simply put, Dean Skelos does NOT CARE about your children.

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