ALBANY, N.Y. June 2, 2008 - New York State United Teachers, while acknowledging the need for property tax relief, today said a tax cap would harm public education and "is the wrong approach to alleviating the unfair burden placed on some homeowners."
"We are committed to finding a fair way of relieving the property tax burden," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. "But an arbitrary cap that fails to take into consideration rising costs beyond the control of school districts is a blunt instrument that would damage education and efforts to create equity for all children. We know full well that poorer districts would never be able to muster the votes to spend more than a cap, only widening the achievement gap for children of color and for children who live in poverty."
NYSUT Executive Vice President Alan Lubin noted that New York already grants local communities the right to decide property taxes through school budget voting. On May 20, voters approved nearly 93 percent of school budgets around the state. "And 297 districts approved budgets higher than what Albany would allow if it instituted a cap," Lubin said. "An arbitrary tax cap erodes local control over school budgets and ignores the reality that New Yorkers support education as an essential investment in children and as a magnet for jobs and economic growth."
Lubin said that, while cost-savings proposals must always be considered seriously, "some of the commission's other recommendations are an attempt to resuscitate every bad idea ever floated - and already rejected - in Albany."
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.