ALBANY, N.Y. March 21, 2014 - New York State United Teachers today launched a $1.5 million ad blitz to oppose a tax freeze plan that would put added pressure on school districts to cut programs, and blasted the Senate for favoring wealthy benefactors of private, non-public and charter schools over public schoolchildren.
The statewide radio and television ad campaign is aimed at the Senate and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who are backing what NYSUT called a "devastating plan that squanders hundreds of millions of dollars for tax breaks for the wealthy while denying students the programs and services they need." The campaign calls for a greater investment in public education and hits the Senate for supporting new money for corporate charters and its Education Investment Tax Credit plan that gives away expensive new tax breaks to wealthy New Yorkers who donate to private, non-public and charter schools. NYSUT said tax credits would siphon off hundreds of millions of dollars in desperately needed revenue that should be used to help public schools, which serve the vast majority of the state's students and have been decimated by cuts.
Playing off New York's never-ending winter, the $1.5 million in ads warn that some lawmakers are putting a "deep freeze" on the future, with TV spots telling viewers, "The governor and Senate's bad news budget shortchanges public education, but gives breaks to private schools and corporate charters. And, a so-called tax freeze helps the wealthy, while forcing local school districts to make deep cuts, increase class size and lay off teachers and staff." The ads will run in all major upstate markets and on Long Island, on both network and cable television.
NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi said the Senate plan, which provides more new funding to corporate charters and private schools than to public schools, shows the priorities of Senate Republicans and IDC members are out of step with the needs of middle- and working-class New Yorkers.
"They chose their big donors over the needs of children, and tax breaks for hedge-funders and financiers over what financially struggling public schools in their home districts need to survive," Iannuzzi said. "Our public schools and colleges need a far greater investment from state aid. That's what will help reduce the burden on local property taxpayers. The excuse that it is a one-house bill or that it will be fixed in the final state budget is, frankly, insulting and is unacceptable to frustrated teachers, angry parents and students who are being set up to fail. It is unconscionable."
NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta said offering property tax rebates to homeowners in school districts that stay below the property tax cap - and the Senate's move to make the tax cap permanent - suggests Senate Republicans and IDC members are turning their backs on public school teachers, parents and students.
"After all the pain inflicted on school districts by the horrific tax cap, you can only wonder why the governor and Senate would push forward a plan that encourages even deeper cuts," Pallotta said. "It is an absurd concept that encourages school districts to cut more programs, lay off more staff and make it that much harder for students to graduate and go on to college. We will send a clear message that it is unacceptable."
New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.
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