ALBANY, N.Y. December 16, 2008 - New York State United Teachers, while recognizing that the darkening economy requires difficult decisions, today said Gov. Paterson's proposed state education budget would ask students to shoulder the burdens of the state's economic crisis, resulting in increased class sizes, cuts in academic services and eroded access to the state's community colleges at a time when it's most needed.
"Although we respect the governor's efforts to craft a budget in these trying times, this spending proposal raises deep concerns about its impact on public education," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. "The economic crisis is severe, but we cannot - and do not - accept this devastating $2.5 billion school aid cut as inevitable."
"We give the governor credit for including new sources of revenue, but they don't begin to go far enough to enable the state to meet its obligations to our students," Iannuzzi added. "Deep cuts to education unfairly burden children, instead of asking the wealthiest to shoulder their fair share through a more progressive income tax. These deep cuts would represent a huge disinvestment in New York state at a time when equity and economic recovery depend on quality public education."
NYSUT Executive Vice President Alan B. Lubin stressed that a proposed cut in community college funding would "create dangerous holes in a safety net that New Yorkers rely on more than ever in tough economic times." Meanwhile, SUNY and CUNY have already been burdened with cuts and "the union will continue to be vigilant in defending the quality of and access to our public higher education institutions," he said. Lubin further noted that proposed cuts to teaching hospitals would "shred a safety net that is essential for New Yorkers."
NYSUT is stressing the need to increase revenue by creating a more equitable income tax that shifts more of the burden to those who can most afford to pay. "Restructuring the state income tax would actually reduce the tax burden for lower-income and middle-class families while ensuring everyone pays their fair share," Lubin said. "Change is long overdue."
NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents more than 600,000 classroom teachers and other school employees; faculty and other professionals at the state's community colleges, State University of New York and City University of New York, and other education and health professionals. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AFL-CIO.