New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. recently expressed his outrage about Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed $25.6 billion school aid package, which would leave four local school districts with less aid than they received last year.
“The Governor gets a failing grade when it comes to educating our children on eastern Long Island. He brags that he is increasing aid to education by $961 million or 4.1 percent across the State,” Assemblyman Thiele explained. “14 of the 19 school districts in the 1st Assembly District get less than the 4.1 percent state average increase. Four districts get a decrease in aid. The Governor’s proposal is only 46 percent of the $2.1 billion recommended by the State Board of Regents.”
Under the Governor’s state aid proposal, Riverhead would receive $29,000,387 in aid, a + 6.47 change, Remsenberg-Speonk would receive $565,419, a – 3.39 change, Westhampton Beach would receive $2,414,781, a + 3.88 change, Quogue would receive $332,127, a + 4.71 change, East Quogue would receive $1,175,214, a + 0.01 change, Hampton Bays would receive $5,595,122, a + 1.40 change, Southampton would receive $2,809,175, a + 3.92 change, Bridgehampton would receive $733,355, a + 3.38 change, Tuckahoe would receive $1,042,484, a + 1.93 change, Sag Harbor would receive $1,821,622, a – 1.19 change, Shelter Island would receive $598,805, a + 4.69 change, East Hampton would receive $3,223,799, a + 3.21 change, Amagansett would receive $371,951, a – 4.05 change, Springs would receive $1,737,393, a + 2.88 change, and Montauk would receive $838,368, a + 0.60 change.
The Assemblyman believes the Foundation Aid formula, which “uses objective criteria to better target State funds to high needs districts, and is tied to the Contracts for Excellence accountability measures created last year,” is detrimental to Long Island-based schools. “Only three of 19 school districts in the 1st Assembly District would get an increase in the category of Foundation Aid of more than two percent. Only two school districts would benefit from a new aid category for Community Schools,” he noted. “The State aid proposal is skewed against Long Island.”
The State Property Tax Cap for school districts will be 1.26 percent this year. “I have been a strong advocate of the property tax cap. I was one of the original sponsors in 2011,” Thiele shared. “However, I have consistently said that the success of the tax cap depends on two other variables. For the tax cap to succeed, there needed to be (1) adequate State aid and (2) relief from unfunded State mandates. The Governor’s proposal fails both tests. The Legislature must fix this recipe for disaster by providing both additional aid for Long Island and mandate relief.”
Even though the Governor has put forth a proposal to lower property taxes, the proposal does not address school districts, which consists of nearly 70 percent of the property tax across Long Island.
“The State Legislature will have to work together regardless of geography and political party to provide a real school aid plan that serves all New Yorkers,” Thiele added. “The Governor is not up to the task.”