March 31, 2017
By Silver Krieger
New York, NY – The New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) dodged a bullet on Friday, March 24th, when the Republicans pulled legislation to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act, without even going to a vote.
NYSUT is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care, and is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.
NYSUT had previously condemned a proposed amendment to the bill by U.S. Representative Chris Collins, saying that it would create a huge hole in the state budget that would result in massive cuts to public schools, colleges and hospitals. In a statement, NYSUT said, “Chris Collins is selling out his home state — and the students who attend public schools and colleges in his congressional district — to score cheap political points in Washington. Anyone who is aligned with Collins and this disastrous Trump-Ryan plan, and votes for this destructive amendment, is a turncoat to their home state and is clearly willing to throw public education — and the health care needs of their constituents — under the bus. Let us be crystal clear: This vote will dog them for the rest of their time in office.”
Collins’ amendment would have forced New York State to pay the $2.3 billion that is now contributed by upstate and Long Island counties to Medicaid for lower-income state residents, and was designed to win Republican votes in the House from New York. Governor Cuomo had said that there is no way the state could make up the amount of money now contributed by the counties. Aides to Collins had said that transferring the costs would save county homeowners thousands of dollars a year on property taxes, which are driven by the cost of Medicaid.
Before the bill was pulled, NYSUT feared the worst for school funding. “This will lead to devastating cuts to education,” Carl Korn, a spokesman for NYSUT had said prior to Friday’s development. “It will punch a giant hole in the state budget and that would hurt education.” SUNY, CUNY, and tuition assistance programs such as TARP, and grants for poorer students, would have certainly been cut, NYSUT believed, in order to make up for the cuts.
With the bill dead, or on hold indefinitely, the schools are, for now, safe from the effects of what NYSUT had said would be a $2.3 billion dollar hole in the state budget.