March 25, 2010
The Honorable Sam Hoyt
Member of the Assembly
Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Dear Assemblyman Hoyt:
This is in response to your correspondence regarding the massive cuts to public education proposed by the Executive that you and other members of the Senate and Assembly are considering.
To be clear, New York State's Constitution includes the following, "the legislature shall provide for the maintenance and support of a system of free common schools, wherein all the children of this state may be educated" (Article XI, §1). Despite this charge, and after years of chronic under-funding, NYSUT, along with other advocates, had to fight for and won a legal challenge in our state's highest court that required New York State to provide additional funding for public education so that all children had access to a sound basic education. As a result, the State Legislature enacted a four year "foundation formula" funding plan, which you supported, providing for the distribution of additional monies to schools as required by the court. After only two years, the State Legislature froze the formula and it is now considering cutting $1.4 billion in funding for our schools. It is worth noting that if the legislature had not frozen this funding, over $4 billion in additional funds would now be available to help close the achievement gap, improve test scores and graduation rates and address ever escalating local property taxes.
These are extremely challenging times and all of us need to be part of the solution. NYSUT locals across the state have been and are ready to do their part. Indeed, many have worked in collaboration with their school boards to negotiate changes to existing bargaining agreements while still maintaining programs for kids, help property taxpayers and save jobs.
Mr. Hoyt, what exactly have you proposed doing to help manage these difficult times aside from cutting court-mandated funding for public schools? Unfortunately, it seem that you are only willing to consider "sacrifice" as long as it is limited to children, parents and property taxpayers.
Once again, property taxpayers, parents and staff are being asked to do what you as a legislator seem unwilling to do - put our kids first. While you may not be willing to do your part, our locals will continue to sacrifice and NYSUT will continue to fight for the restoration of funding so that our Governor and the State Legislature will meet the constitutional promise to provide all of our children a sound, quality public education.
Richard C. Iannuzzi
cc:Assemblywoman Ginny Fields
Assemblyman Michael Benjamin