Senator Oppenheimer and Senate Democrats Reject Mid-year Cuts in Education Funding
Senator Suzi Oppenheimer (D-Mamaroneck) announced on Monday, December 7, passage of a bipartisan Deficit Reduction Plan (“DRP”), which closes the nearly $3 billion state budget gap, while protecting schoolchildren and property taxpayers from potentially devastating mid-year cuts in education funding.
“New York’s current fiscal crisis required us to dig deep to find spending cuts that would balance the budget without harming local schools, increasing property taxes or sacrificing health care,” said Senator Suzi Oppenheimer. “My priority as Chair of the Senate Education Committee was to identify responsible reductions in education spending and avert mid-year cuts in school aid that would have taken money out of the classroom and potentially raised property taxes on already overtaxed homeowners. The budget we have passed accomplishes that goal.”
By taking a careful and deliberate approach to deficit reduction, the Legislature was also able to preserve over $750 million in federal funding for hospitals and medical services, while reducing state healthcare costs by nearly $170 million through fiscally prudent spending cuts and cost savings. The DRP also rejected the Governor’s proposed cuts in job-creation and employment programs for unemployed New Yorkers and preserves over 12,000 jobs that would have been lost from cuts to vital services.
“While the budget negotiations were at times painful and time-consuming, the bipartisan DRP that emerged from this process helps to restore New York to a sounder fiscal footing. But there are significant challenges still before us,” observed Senator Oppenheimer. “Given our slow economic recovery, we will be faced with some very difficult decisions in the coming budget year.” Senate Democrats are advocating a performance-based budgeting approach that will require state agencies and authorities to justify every dollar of public funds spent.
In education, Senator Oppenheimer will continue to push for changes in state law that will allow school districts to reduce costs, share services and expand the use of Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) to achieve greater efficiencies in the provision of back-office and administrative services.
“These remain very difficult times for our State and our Nation. As we approach the 2010-2011 budget season, I will continue to fight for responsible reductions in state spending, reforms that change the way services are provided in order to lower costs and oppose changes that increase property taxes,” said the Senator.