"A government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have"
Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gov to Schools

The following is a letter from the Governor to schools, I have highlighted some interesting points in the letter. Notice where the Governor tips his hand and talks about his 10% reduction in state agencies and how local folks should prepare for a "similar approach."

Schools and local governments have time to prepare manageable cuts in a organized fashion, versus the chaotic nature of crisis cuts. The main stream media should be covering this story to find out how they are preparing and what proposed cuts will look like.

Dear School Board Presidents and District Superintendents,

New York is facing a historic fiscal crisis. Over the next four years, we must close a record $47 billion deficit. Given the magnitude of this problem, every area of State spending, including education, will have to experience reductions.

I have been voicing my concerns about the impact of the current economic downturn on our State finances since the day I took office. In August, I convened the Legislature for a special session, during which we worked together to enact $1 billion of reductions over two years. At the time, schools were held harmless to recognize the impending beginning of the school year.

By October, the economic downturn had become so severe that no area of the budget could be exempt from reductions. As such, on November 12, I proposed an $836 million mid-year reduction in aid to school districts for 2008-09. This proposal would have provided most, though not all, districts with increased funding from last year, and would have still allowed overall School Aid to increase by 16 percent over the last two years. However, at last week’s special session, the Legislature did not act. While school aid reductions remain on the table, it is unlikely the Legislature will consider them any time soon. Therefore, we would be well into the final quarter of our fiscal year and even further into the school year before any action would likely occur. Unfortunately, this timing renders the proposal impractical for this fiscal year and I am withdrawing it. However, I will put forward further school aid reductions in the early budget that I will deliver in three weeks.

As I have said repeatedly, delaying action only makes our budget problems more difficult and painful to solve and we cannot solve our budget problems fairly without reductions in every area of spending. Fiscal management is all about making hard, painful decisions, and the rejection of a mid-year School Aid reduction by the Legislature means that deeper declines in funding for school districts will now be necessary in 2009-10 to ensure a balanced budget.

This decision to propose any reductions in education spending was a difficult one for me personally. In my time as a State senator, I had been one of the most vocal supporters in the Legislature of increased funding for school districts. But the unfortunate reality of our current, unprecedented fiscal crisis is that we will have to make numerous tough choices.

Next year, total School Aid is projected to increase by 8.8 percent or $1.9 billion. During one of the greatest fiscal crisis in our State’s history, that is a level of funding we simply cannot afford given that School Aid represents more than one-third of the State’s General Fund spending.

On December 16, my Executive Budget proposal to the Legislature will detail the level of support we can afford to provide for School Aid. But I wanted to write to you today to make my intentions regarding School Aid clear. This will allow you to begin planning for your fiscal futures more than seven months in advance of the 2009-10 school year which begins on July 1, 2009.

I acknowledge that your costs are rising, but I believe all levels of government must reduce spending. This year, I have reduced State agency spending by more than 10 percent. In this unprecedented fiscal crisis, school districts, like all levels of government, will have to take a similar approach and find ways to reduce costs and improve the efficiency of their operations on behalf of taxpayers.

Additionally, it is important that these necessary reductions are analyzed in their proper context. No single fiscal year’s budget should be viewed in isolation. Over the last five years, School Aid has increased by 48 percent. Over the last two years alone, it has increased by over 20 percent. A substantial commitment to education funding will remain even after next year’s reductions

I invite you to join me as partners serving our taxpayers. Perhaps this crisis presents an invaluable opportunity for us to improve the structure of our educational system and how it is financed. I welcome any suggestions you may have.

I know that the months and years ahead will be difficult. But I look forward to your help and cooperation in addressing our State’s fiscal crisis. I know that together we can weather this storm and help get New York’s fiscal house in order.


David A. Paterson
Governor of the State of New York


Anonymous said...

Not gonna happen. There will be no cuts in education. In fact, there will be no lessening in the INCREASES in education spending. Taxpayers will continue to be raped at about an 8-9% annual rate. Get over it. If you read the Gov's letter, his proposed "cuts" still would have left increases in spending. These people are in control. The people of NYS now need to learn to enjoy what they have allowed to take place. The damage will continue for years to come.

Dan Francis said...

Memo back to Gov: Sir, in our view, public schools are NOT a level of government regarding any cuts (in spending or otherwise), and if they ARE considered a part of government, then they surely are the best investment government can ever make ...

Ergo: school cuts should be made at the local level, not from Albany level.

/s/ A dedicated supporter and taxpayer.

~ dmf

Anonymous said...

NOT an honest response, Dan. With most of the funding based on state reimbursement, you can't make a statement about leadership in financial aspects coming from the local level. For how long has it been told to us, by "feeling" though dishonest administrators, it'll cost this, "but 95% comes from the state". Well, we ARE the state.

The numbers speak for themselves. If we spent oodles on cancer research, that would be "money well spent" too Danny, but the time has come to make some decisions. I'm disappointed in your post. But Happy Thanksgiving anyway.

Dan Francis said...

5:29 pm Anon: Oops - you missed my point entirely, which you often do. I was directly responding to this part of the Gov's memo:

"This year, I have reduced State agency spending by more than 10 percent.

"In this unprecedented fiscal crisis, school districts, like all levels of government, will have to take a similar approach and find ways to reduce costs and improve the efficiency of their operations on behalf of taxpayers."

10% less in funds coming means precisely that - local districts will have to make it with 10% less.

But how/where to cut is up to the local district, not Albany.

Give us the money, we'll make it fit. But my most important point remains: schools SHOULD not be lumped into: "the same as all government agencies when it comes to cuts."

Schools ARE not government agencies per se - they receive support from Albany but most comes from local taxpayers.

Ergo: if 10% less comes from Albany and local district needs that 10%, guess what? The district tax bill for that SY will go up by any amount to offset the 10% loss from Albany.

Local folks must get involved and double check the local budget to make sure the 10% is needed and not "goodies" only.

But how many local folks get deeply involved in the process? I have attended school budget meetings and I was the only one to speak out.

Most local boards just lecture to us and expect a "yes" vote no matter what ... that is not good government.

~ dmf

Anonymous said...

"School cuts should be made at the local level, not from the Albany level". That was YOUR quote, Dan.
I assumed you meant it.

Spending cuts are not going to come from the local level. The state has to take the lead in telling local districts they will have less to waste, excuse me, spend. There has been no 10% cut. I don't think there ever will be, but there's a first time for everything.

I don't blame you for backpeddling, as you often do. As far as being a dedicated supporter and taxpayer, I'm proud. That's what we are all required to say. That kind of statement is closely related with "I love children", and if you ever want a political future you are obligated to spew such blather. This kind of political atmosphere is what has put us in this position. You're not alone.

I love kids too. I support education, and love teachers. They are underpaid and overworked. Children are the future. There, I'm on board too.

Dan Francis said...

7:52 Anon: I don't know if you're the same Anon who hacks me or not, if you are, then I'm done trying to converse with you; if you are a new Anon, I won't even try to converse with you.

Anonymous said...

I'm both.

Don't mean to offend. The posted comments are yours. That's what I quoted. That's what I reacted to.

Don't take it too hard. Overall, I think you are one of the most courageous posters around. This time, I just didn't see it your way.

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