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Curran to Cuomo: Budget Places Hardships on School Districts

NYS Assemblyman Brian Curran asks governor to restore funding to local school districts.

New York State Assemblyman Brian Curran is fighting hard to restore some of the state funding that was cut from the Long Island school districts he represents.

On Monday, a YouTube video was released depicting Curran and five other Republican assemblymen from Long Island campaigning for Long Island schools to get their "fair share" of education funding from New York State. The clip encouraged residents to sign a petition that would be delivered to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

One day later, Curran -- who represents Baldwin, Lynbrook, Malverne, Rockville Centre, South Hempstead and parts of East Rockaway, Franklin Square, Freeport, Hewlett, Oceanside and West Hempstead -- also sent his own lengthy letter to the governor. Here's what he wrote:

Dear Governor Cuomo:

Making sure our children receive a top-notch education by our public schools remains a top priority of mine. And I know you share a similar mission; you said exactly so in your 2013 State of the State Address. I believe such a commitment deserves more than just words.

Governor, your proposed 2013 Executive Budget has negatively impacted several public school districts in my Assembly District. With a lack of this state funding, it becomes harder and harder to safeguard the future of our children when educational needs are unable to be met.

Right now, your budget proposal penalizes children for living on Long Island. Under your Executive Budget, New York City is receiving $129 per student. Adding in upstate communities – many which saw increases in state aid – districts are receiving $119 per student. Yet on Long Island, we are only receiving a mere $66 per student!

Governor, these figures are unconscionable, especially for Long Island which has always prided itself in its public education.

Specific to my Assembly District, while some school districts such as Baldwin, Hewlett-Woodmere, Lynbrook, Rockville Centre and Valley Stream #20 have received modest increases, several have been unfairly reduced. I am asking for your assistance in restoring funding to these school districts, not only to assist our children’s education but also help the districts from passing along increases in the form of higher taxes and increased budgets to area residents and businesses.

The East Rockaway School District, which is undertaking massive efforts to rebuild post-superstorm Sandy after its schools were flooded, is busing children to a neighboring school district that can accommodate them and their teachers on top of their own students. East Rockaway is in dire need for an increase in state funding to cope with the disaster’s increased costs. Residential properties and school buildings were both flooded and wiped out . This community needs as much assistance as possible. It’s sad and unfortunate that you from last year. While building aid was reduced, high-tax aid to this hardworking was pummeled down by -70%, from $575,562 last year to a mere $172,668 in your proposal. I would ask that this be immediately remedied for the district and our mutual constituents.

Baldwin, another community that sustained massive flooding, wind damage and already suffers from a high-rate of commercial vacancies and closed businesses, received an embarrassingly small rise in their school aid to deal with the storm’s damage as well. The 0.56% increase in total school aid is surely not enough. While this district receives an increase as oppose to others which do not, the small change is negligible. For equity, a change in this amount is necessary; it will not only help for building aid but will additionally assist in the high taxed community with a poor economy.

Oceanside, yet another community that was all over the news post-Sandy for the superstorm’s utter destruction in the community, also received a startling reduction in aid. While I’m uncertain who crafted your Executive Budget, I don’t understand why they would choose to penalize school districts whose schools had to close because of the widespread flooding and damage; many facilities are still undergoing remediation as we speak. In your proposal, Oceanside also received a startling -$669,564, or -3.91% reduction in state aid including massive cuts in both building aid and high tax aid.

While West Hempstead was spared the amount of devastation seen in these three other communities within my Assembly District, the school district also faces more difficult times – and even moreso with your -3.93% proposed reduction in state aid. Inexplicably, your proposed high tax aid is an enormous decrease of -$364,141 to West Hempstead Public Schools.

When our districts need help the most, your Executive Budget has reduced both building and high tax aid to my districts. Our communities – both children and home-owning taxpayers – are irreparably harmed by these proposed cuts. Not only does ensure they are not receiving their fair share, but your Executive Budget places undue hardships on many districts facing significant challenges and increased costs after superstorm Sandy.

A restoration of funding in your budget would not only abide by the Foundation Aid Formula, but allows taxpayers in my Assembly District – who already send a disproportionately high amount of tax dollars to Albany – to get their investment in our public education back.

I know that we can work together to ensure these school districts receive their fair share. Not only do I ask for their immediate funding restoration, but I look forward to meeting with you to discuss its necessity. I look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,

BRIAN F. CURRAN
Assemblyman – 21st District

What do you think of Curran's letter? Tell us in the comments section below.

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  • Long Island Pols Fight for 'Fair Share' of School Aid
Lincoln Washington January 31, 2013 at 01:35 PM
That's what he was elected to do.
Tom Garrett January 31, 2013 at 01:37 PM
Assemblyman Curran, This is how the Governor shows his gratitude nice, wouldn’t want to be on his naughty list….. Well I can’t agree with you more because it's a matter of whats "Right and Wrong" and support you 100 % in this endeavor. I also find it appalling that these three communities that were hardest hit by the effects of Sandy were the ones that singled out for reductions in State Aid. These communities’ schools are going to face financial challenges well beyond the next fiscal year as it will take many years for Nassau County to sort out the damage done to the taxing base. Some homes no longer exist, property owners may choose not to rebuild and relocate using the proposed NYS buyout program and those that do want to rebuild again will take time as they fight the Federal Government and Commercial Insurance Co.’s for funds due them and in all fairness these properties cannot be assessed at a real market value until they are whole again. This is going to be an absolute nightmare for these communities and their schools for years to come.
Tom Garrett January 31, 2013 at 01:40 PM
Since you’re in the mood to write letters I have another one for you. It’s unrelated to the schools but does in fact affect four of the communities under your jurisdiction. The Governor’s proposal that “calls for changing the rules that allow local courts to let a defendant plead to a lesser, non-moving offense — and then pocket the money from fines the state would otherwise get.” Read more: http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Speeding-ticket-plea-plan-on-fast-track-4215507.php#ixzz2JYhv0i17 This too will negatively affect the revenue side of these Communities budgets which in turn will only have to be made up by the residents in higher taxes on top of higher taxes due to the loss in State Aid, if you are not successful in changing things. This is the Governors idea of NY Rising…..
Thomas Nathan January 31, 2013 at 05:18 PM
@ Tom - the article basically says that under new rules if the person plea bargains a ticket down (other than it being tracked a bit more) they would pay another $80 surcharge on top of the ticket. So on top of the price of the ticket and the currant $85 surcharge they would have to pay another $80 which results in a $165 state surcharge. So the person would need to decide if the large price of the parking ticket offsets the headaches of a moving violation.
Tom Garrett February 01, 2013 at 12:58 PM
@ Thomas from: http://albany-lawyer.blogspot.com/ "Keep in mind that Cuomo's underlying purpose is to get additional money from traffic tickets. If your ticket is reduced from a speed to a parking ticket, the fine money goes to the town and there's no surcharge. Under the new rule, if passed, you will pay a higher fine and a surcharge, and most of that money will go to the state. Cuomo claims this will bring in $58 million in new money to the state, but it's a trick. Following a long line of NY politicians like Pataki, Bruno and Silver, and of course his own father, he's stealing money from the towns and raising the speeding ticket tax on drivers." Exactly to my point what's currently being done with plea bargains is the "Towns and Villages" keep the proceeds entirely by allowing one to plea down to a non moving violation and by virtue of this change, will in fact leave a gap in revenue for these jurisdictions.... No simpler then that, not to mention people will now challenge these tickets more frequently adding to the expense side of the ledger for Police Departments and Court's. A well thought out plan... Steal local revenue and increase local costs.....
Thomas Nathan February 01, 2013 at 06:35 PM
@Tom For the person who has been caught speeding the argument still comes down to the same thing do I want to pay the money or do I want the points on my license and related insurance hike. The law still allows it to be plead down to a parking ticket but imposes a harsher state surcharge.
Thomas Nathan February 01, 2013 at 06:36 PM
@Tom In actuality - the local entities were stealing state revenues all these years by allowing all these plea deals to a parking ticket. Whats good for the goose.....
Tom Garrett February 01, 2013 at 07:07 PM
@ Thomas Excellent point! Bravo, hehehehe, I suppose there's no honor amongst thieves!!! However I'm still inclined to "keep things local"

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