NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi recently submitted the following letter to Newsday in response to the newspaper's editorial of Dec. 3, 2008, on property tax relief.
December 3, 2008
To the editor:
It appears suggestions to trim school costs and reduce property taxes are only positive if the Suozzi Commission and Newsday editorial board agree with them. That’s the only way to read Wednesday's editorial (Taxes and education, Dec. 3) and where Newsday disappointingly goes astray.
The fact is, New York State United Teachers - whose members pay property taxes on Long Island and elsewhere - has embraced numerous cost-saving solutions to help lower property taxes while protecting quality education programs for children, especially those in needy school districts and those receiving special education services.
To reduce expenses, Long Island districts should explore greater use of BOCES for bulk purchasing. NYSUT also believes districts can trim administrative costs for payroll, informational technology and legal services, for example, by combining their back-office operations or using existing BOCES services more efficiently. Perhaps some pension obligations can be absorbed by the state. And, certainly, NYSUT is open to consolidation - where the overall savings can be proven and where the major stakeholders agree. In our experience, consolidations are rare because the savings just aren’t there.
How best to reduce the tax burden on Long Islanders is a real issue. An artificial tax cap, however, is a political gimmick that won’t reduce anyone’s property taxes one penny.
The best way to help Long Islanders in this economic crisis is to find savings and efficiencies that don’t harm the classroom; increase revenue flowing into the state treasury by creating an equitable income tax that shifts the burden to those who can afford to pay and away from low- and middle-income tax payers; and by providing real property tax relief (a circuit breaker based on income), to those seniors and middle class homeowners who need help the most.
These are indeed positive suggestions and, most importantly, they actually work. The Suozzi Commission and Newsday shouldn't be so quick to dismiss them.
Richard C. Iannuzzi, President
New York State United Teachers