February 2003
Focus on Education

From the NYS Assembly • Sheldon Silver, Speaker
Steven Sanders, Chair, Education Committee

What they’re saying about the governor’s budget…

"This is one giant step backwards for New York’s students. New York’s future is in its classrooms, but that future is being mortgaged off. New York cannot accept this kind of shortsighted budgeting."

- Alan B. Lubin, Executive Vice President of the New York State United Teachers

"New York has been on a path for higher standards for children for a decade. (The Legislature) invested an extraordinary amount of money over recent years to make the (higher) standards come to life. The children have responded... The problem with the executive budget is it gets us off that path of success."

- New York State Education Commissioner Richard Mills

"(T)he elimination of universal pre-K will affect 44,000 four-year-olds, and the elimination of class size reduction funding will reduce the number of teaching positions in kindergarten through third-grade by about 1,900."

– New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg

"The governor’s budget cuts will create hundreds of schools that are under-funded, under-staffed and under-performing."

– Regina Eaton, Executive Director of the Alliance for Quality Education

"This is going to be traumatic. We are looking at a double-digit tax increase, there’s no doubt about it."

– Mount Vernon Board of Education President Gerald Coleman

The governor’s $1.4 billion cut in state aid to education strikes a serious blow to New York’s elementary and secondary schools.

For eight straight years the governor has sought to undermine New York’s investment in education, but this year it’s an all-out assault. The state must make some tough choices to solve our budget problems, but slashing education by $1.4 billion is absolutely the wrong choice.

The governor’s proposed cut in state aid to local schools – the largest cut in New York state history – will jeopardize the quality of education our children receive. Without adequate state aid, schools will be forced to cut essential educational programs, lay off teachers and increase local property taxes.

The governor’s plan guts the Assembly’s LADDER program that’s raising academic standards in our schools.

The LADDER program successfully reduces class sizes, funds universal pre-kindergarten, supports teacher training, improves the use of technology in the classroom and ensures proper maintenance of school buildings.


The governor’s budget, if allowed to become law, would hurt approximately 240,000 students benefiting from smaller classes and force 60,000 children out of pre-K classes.


Research has shown that smaller class sizes and pre-kindergarten benefit children through increased achievement, lower dropout rates, and less disruptive behavior. In addition to improving classroom environments and helping our youngest students to succeed, LADDER funds extended school day and school violence prevention programs; upgrades technology in the classroom; improves school buildings; as well as attracts and trains quality educators.

The governor’s budget shifts an enormous financial burden onto local taxpayers.

The governor promised his budget would not impose any new taxes, but that’s exactly what it does. Not only will these drastic and devastating cuts cheat our children out of a quality education, they will threaten local homeowners with higher school property taxes. In fact, if the governor’s budget were enacted, the state’s share of education funding would plummet from 42 percent to 37.7 percent. Consequently, the average school property tax would have to increase by more than 20 percent for schools to maintain the current level of services. In addition to cutting school aid, the governor plans to freeze the STAR property tax relief program.

The Assembly will fight for a strong state investment in our local schools.

The Assembly will also work to rescue the successful LADDER program from the governor’s budget cuts. Early education and smaller classrooms are essential to helping our children meet higher academic standards. Children need a quality education and high-tech skills to succeed in today’s workforce. Our economy will never fully recover when tomorrow’s workers are trapped in overcrowded classrooms without the resources they need.

New York is at an historic crossroads. We face new challenges and tough decisions. But if we want to make our state a better place to live, work and raise a family, we must make the right decisions by investing in our children’s future. The governor’s assault on education puts in jeopardy all our gains to date.

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