Friday, March 28, 2014

State Finances, encore

Here's my letter to the local Gannett papers:
I remember when the New York State Senate was routinely contrasted with the Assembly as the champion of upstate vs. downstate interests. Based on the current Senate budget resolution, that contrast is a fallacy. The Senate proposal favors New York City schools over upstate schools with every dollar it spends.

The Senate mysteriously locates $485 million to fund pre-kindergarten, $340 million of which will go directly to New York City to avoid taxing rich city residents. It allows charter schools to remain in public school buildings rent-free and even grants them building aid similar to that for public schools. This millionaire-backed, special-interest giveaway was supported by every single one of our region’s state senators despite the fact that the Charter School Office lists 42 charter schools in upstate New York (all city schools) compared to five times that many downstate.

Let’s hope that wiser heads prevail and that our hard-earned taxes don’t once again go to expand the gap between rich urban/suburban and poor rural schoolchildren. Downstate charter schools are less about parents selecting a school than about schools selecting their students. Upstate public schools are about education for all, but the state Senate has chosen this year to promote special interests over special education and to throw our small rural districts under the bus.

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