ALBANY, N.Y. January 22, 2008 - New York State United Teachers President Richard C. Iannuzzi today said the union appreciates that Gov. Eliot Spitzer's proposed budget keeps education a priority, despite the tough budget climate. "However, it's essential to our efforts to close the achievement gap that we keep the multi-year commitment made to our children, particularly those in poverty. It underscores the critical question this budget season: How can we best keep our promises to all our children in tough economic times?" Iannuzzi said.
"We acknowledge the depths of the challenges facing our state," said NYSUT Executive Vice President Alan Lubin. "There are positive initiatives in the budget request, along with points of concern. We will work hard with the Legislature to honor New York's multi-year commitment to provide quality public education for all our children." That historic commitment was expressly designed to protect schools in high-poverty areas from the roller-coaster ride of budget cycles, Lubin noted, and addresses inequities highlighted by the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit.
He questioned the executive budget's cuts to the State University, City University and community colleges, given "the governor's emphasis on investing in public higher education - which is needed more than ever now to rev the state's economy." Lubin added, "In tough economic times, there's an understandable inclination to cut back on investment. But that's precisely when we need to move steadily forward, investing in education as the engine to the state's economy and our children's future."
A tax cap proposal "would remove local control and take us in the wrong direction at a time when New York's education progress is being recognized," Lubin said. "By contrast, increasing the state's share of education aid would reduce property tax burdens without removing local control over schools."
Lubin said the slowing economy highlights how No Child Left Behind has become "the elephant in the room - an unfunded mandate which grows bigger each year." Despite this onerous federal policy, Lubin said, New York state is "closing the gap for students in poverty and leading the nation in key measures of education quality. We need to keep the momentum going."
NYSUT represents 585,000 teachers, school-related professionals, academic and professional faculty in higher education, professionals in education and health care and retirees. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.