NYSUT and six other leading statewide education groups - making up the Educational Conference Board - are urging state legislators to reject the governor's property tax freeze proposal.
The proposed two-year freeze would cause further disinvestment in the state's public schools at a time when schools have not recovered from cuts imposed in the aftermath of the 2008-09 recession, the group reported Wednesday. It would further undermine local control and exacerbate the funding inequities that have already been intensified by the tax cap, which stands at 1.46 percent next school year.
Noting the loss of programs, services and thousands of jobs due to insufficient state aid and a cap on local revenue, NYSUT Executive Vice President Andy Pallotta said, "We're talking about local control. And we know, at this point, that parents would like to have control in their own communities."
ECB has released a position paper outlining its objections and concerns with the tax freeze proposal.
"This proposal is convoluted, overly complex and ignores all the work school districts have been doing over recent years to reduce costs and address concerns over property taxes," said ECB Chair John Yagelski.
"If enacted, this tax freeze proposal would have a greater impact on schools in poor communities and further widen gaps in opportunities for students between low- and high-need districts."
The board released its report on the same day that the Alliance for Quality Education brought hundreds of students to the Capitol to deliver petitions to the governor's office. They demanded that Albany fully fund schools by increasing education aid by $1.9 billion in this year's budget. The governor's executive budget proposal included less than half that amount.
The students, outside the governor's office, filled the air with chanting: "They say cut back! We say fight back!"