ALBANY, N.Y. March 22, 2010 - The State Senate's embrace of Gov. Paterson's proposed $1.7 billion in cuts to education would devastate New York's schools, colleges and communities, hurting students and scuttling the state's economic recovery, according to New York State United Teachers.
Noting that the proposed $1.4 billion in cuts to K-12 amount to a 7.5 percent reduction in operating aid for schools, NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi called today's Senate vote "completely unacceptable."
"If this budget is allowed to stand, we will be looking at a drastic reduction in electives and AP courses, the elimination of summer school and after-school programs, and much larger class sizes. The Senate's vote today, coupled with its tax cap vote last week tying the hands of local school districts, are a significant step backwards from the progress that New York schools have made in recent years," Iannuzzi said.
Iannuzzi cited a report released today by the state School Boards Association and the Council of School Superintendents, which projected the loss of nearly 20,000 education jobs - through layoffs and attrition - if lawmakers do not restore the budget cuts.
"This not only means taking away the livelihood of thousands of professionals, but it means adding to the economic woes of communities already struggling with high unemployment," Iannuzzi said.
NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta said the Paterson-Senate budget is already $4.2 billion below what was promised after the Campaign for Fiscal Equity court case, which ordered New York to provide a sound, basic education for all students.
"How many times is the state going to break its promise to our children?" Pallotta asked. "The cuts that the Senate has endorsed would hurt all students, but especially students in high-needs districts. The Senate is doing exactly what it was ordered by the court not to do."
In addition, the Senate failed to restore any of the governor's proposed cuts to CUNY and SUNY four-year colleges. This resolution also takes steps to limit student access and privatize public higher education. These cuts follow disproportionate cuts to higher ed in each of the lasts several years, totaling more than three-quarters of a billion dollars.
Pallotta said NYSUT and its pro-education allies would work with the state Assembly to undo the damage proposed in the Paterson-Senate plan. Both Iannuzzi and Pallotta acknowledged that the state is experiencing difficult fiscal times and cited the loss of 5,000 education positions during this academic year.
"Keeping the promise to our school children is the right choice for our state," Iannuzzi said. "Instead of delivering on that promise, the Senate has decided to deliver pink slips."
Reporters and Editors: Attached is a preliminary list of the number of jobs that would be lost (PDF) under the Executive Budget in districts reporting to date. The list is growing every day.
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.