ALBANY, N.Y. August 4, 2010 – New York State United Teachers today praised the U.S. Senate's majority and the leadership of U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand for a cloture vote that clears the way for imminent final passage of federal legislation that, by the time school starts in September, will likely mean a $1 billion swing in the fortunes of New York's public schools.
"Sen. Schumer and Sen. Gillibrand led the way from Day 1, and we could not be more thankful," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. "Their effective leadership and strong advocacy for FMAP funding and the Education Jobs Bill will help save thousands of teacher and support staff jobs in New York's schools, strengthening the state's economic recovery and bolstering everyone's efforts to continue to make sure that all students get the best education possible," Iannuzzi added.
Iannuzzi said today's U.S. Senate vote on cloture and planned Senate passage of final legislation on Thursday would mean an additional $1.6 billion in federal funding for New York. The legislation includes $1 billion in federal Medicaid assistance (FMAP) and $620 million to save 7,100 teaching jobs in New York, once the House of Representatives acts and the final votes are tallied. If the FMAP funding had not cleared today's procedural hurdle, state lawmakers had planned on an additional $400 million in midyear school aid cuts, on top of the $1.4 billion slashed in Gov. David Paterson's budget, he said.
Hours after the state Senate acted on what could have meant a disastrous $1.8 billion education cut, congressional action in support of Medicaid assistance to states and for saving teaching jobs reduced the education funding cut to $800 million. "While this deep cut will still have a devastating impact on programs, the U.S. Senate vote is the best possible news for more than 7,000 dedicated education professionals whose livelihoods are on the line," Iannuzzi said.
NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta noted the Legislature – including the Senate, which finished the state budget late last night – must return to Albany to vote to expend the new federal funding. NYSUT will urge lawmakers to act swiftly, and to also fund the state's 130 teacher centers and override the governor's vetoes to provide additional resources to schools and community colleges.
"Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver stood out this session by again demonstrating his formidable leadership in support of public education and the State University, and his fervent opposition to gimmicks like tax caps, which will do nothing to relieve the burden on local property taxpayers," Pallotta said. "Now, as we enter an election season, we will be calling on others in the Legislature to stand up and uphold their longstanding support for what they know is right."
NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents more than 600,000 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, National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.