ALBANY, N.Y. May 18, 2011 - New York State United Teachers today commended Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver for introducing legislation to extend the income tax surcharge on the state's wealthiest residents. NYSUT said the Speaker and Assembly majority, by proposing dedicating a sizeable percentage of the new funding to education, clearly recognize the state must share responsibility with its citizenry to invest in public schools.
NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi noted that voters approved 93.5 percent of school budgets statewide and about 99 percent on Long Island, according to preliminary counts, even though $1.3 billion in state education cuts forced many school boards - after exhausting other options - to increase local property taxes.
"Speaker Silver is showing tremendous leadership for recognizing the state has an obligation to fairly fund public schools and, in fact, should be sharing in the investment being made by local taxpayers in better learning opportunities for students," Iannuzzi said.
"In every corner of the state, New Yorkers, after carefully examining the difficult choices made by their school boards, voted 'yes' in near-record numbers on school budgets to ensure students and education programs did not suffer further harm," Iannuzzi said. "Voters showed they value public education, support their local schools and recognize that teachers and other employees have, too, sacrificed in order to preserve programs and jobs. The state - and the wealthy - must do their part, too."
NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta said, "Eighty percent of New Yorkers oppose education cuts. It's clear the Speaker is doing the right thing by asking the most affluent in our society to share in the sacrifices that middle-class, working New Yorkers have already made. It's our hope that all elected officials recognize the need for shared sacrifice."
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.