Updated 02/20/2013 05:14 PM
NYSUT filing lawsuit against state's two percent tax cap
There's a growing chorus calling on Governor Cuomo and state leaders to set aside more money for schools. Perhaps the loudest voice comes from New York's largest teachers union, which has taken to the courts to challenge the state's two percent tax cap. Our Lori Chung has more.
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- Many districts still suffering after years of cuts, lawmakers and education leaders call on Governor Cuomo to earmark more money for schools.
"Over the past three years, we've decreased our staff by 17 percent,” said Linda Wszolek, President of the Fonda-Fultonville Board of Education.
"We can't continue to pass on these cuts to the local level, because there is no place for them to go. We have the caps and so we must turn to additional state aid," said Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy.
NYSUT is also leading the call for more funding, challenging the state's two percent tax cap. The teacher's union filed suit to overturn it, calling the law unconstitutional and unfair to schools in poorer communities where a two percent increase doesn’t go as far as it does in richer districts.
"The fundamental issue here is whether we are equitably funding education and whether the state is meeting its obligation," NYSUT President Richard Iannuzzi said.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed a 4.4 increase in school aid, but stands by the tax cap.
"A four percent increase is a lot of money and the answer can't always be putting your hand in the pocket of the taxpayer of the state of New York," Cuomo said.
Still, these lawmakers say schools need more, especially in light of new demands on educators.
State Senator Neil Breslin said, "The local taxpayer has had it. They can't pay any more money, but you see the state share decrease each year."
And advocates say the ones who do wind up paying are the students.