ALBANY, N.Y. June 12, 2008 - New York State United Teachers Executive Vice President Alan B. Lubin reacted to today's statements at the Capitol on a proposed property tax cap.
"Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith appears to hold views that do not reflect the sentiments of the members of his own Democratic conference," Lubin said, noting that Senate Democrats are well aware of how a proposed property tax cap would harm educational programs; take away the voice of voters; and widen the achievement gap by locking in inequities in the current school funding formula.
"New Yorkers want - and need - property tax relief, but not at any cost, and not by taking away from our state's most important asset: our children and grandchildren," Lubin said. "Polling shows that New Yorkers concerned about rising property taxes nonetheless still choose to increase investment in education. When presented with a choice, they overwhelmingly vote in favor of their school budgets, including those containing property tax increases. When New Yorkers fully understand how a tax cap would devastate local schools - like Proposition 13 did in California - they reaffirm support for local control."
Meanwhile, Lubin noted that, for years, NYSUT has advocated alternatives that would lift the burden on property taxpayers, including a more progressive income tax structure. "Unfortunately, with the exception of Speaker Silver, these solutions were dismissed out-of-hand and without a fair hearing," Lubin said.
He said NYSUT supports a "circuit breaker" approach that would target tax relief to senior citizens and middle-class New Yorkers who need it most. In addition, Lubin said NYSUT has offered a plan that contains hundreds of millions of dollars in potential savings to school districts, including ways to trim expenses through coordinated bulk purchasing of prescription drugs; regionalizing other school purchasing; and consolidating services that do not impact the classroom.
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.