Local school budget votes take place Tuesday, May 15, across the state. Unfortunately, school boards will again have to deal with the ill-advised tax cap lawmakers passed in 2011.
“Our students, schools and communities continue to cope with layoffs and cuts to many programs,” said NYSUT President Andy Pallotta. “Student success is at risk like never before. It is crucial for NYSUT members to vote May 15 to support school budgets in the districts where they live.”
The tax cap, which has been shown to disproportionately affect lower-income communities, sets a limit on the growth of local property tax levies, or the total amount a school district can collect.
Districts calculate their local tax levy cap using a number of exemptions and a local growth factor. In addition, the cap allows some local exclusions. So, some end up higher and some end up lower than the state tax cap number, which is tied to the rate of inflation or 2 percent, whichever is lower. This year the state tax cap is at 2 percent.
If your district wants to exceed its tax levy cap, the budget must be approved by a “supermajority” of 60 percent of those voting. NYSUT continues working to reverse this requirement in the law on the premise that it is unconstitutional and violates the democratic principle of one person-one vote.
The union maintains it’s wrong for a minority of 40 percent plus one to be able to decide the fate of the budget.
NYSUT has a wide variety of materials and training to help your local union get your school budget passed and elect school board candidates who are pro-public education. Contact your local president if you can help with postcards, phone banks or other activities to get out the vote.