January 30, 2016
By John Quinn, LaborPress Albany
Albany, N.Y. – NYSUT is calling for a big increase in state funding for education. The union representing teachers in New York State is urging the state to use its $5.4 billion surplus to invest in education.
Testifying at both Assembly and Senate committee hearings on Wednesday January 27th, NYSUT Executive Vice President Andy Pallotta, told lawmakers that the $963 million increase proposed in the executive budget isn't enough to provide critical programs to students. According to Pallotta, the property tax cap now is near zero percent. That's crippling districts' ability to get the money they need to support programs and services for students.
"School districts are not able to raise basically any money; that means $700 million is being taken off the table locally, so the state has to make up for that $700 million," said Vice President Pallotta.
The union is calling for an increase of $2.6 billion in state aid to education and changes to the cap on property taxes, which would allow school districts to raise additional funds.
"An increase of $1.7 billion would just get us to where we were last year," said Pallotta. "So, that would keep us at current levels."
"The state has a surplus. This is a good opportunity for the state to make an investment in its public schools," continued the Vice President.
Pallotta said the union's proposals include targeted funds to support struggling schools, expand universal pre-K, and invest in professional development.