Education groups are praising Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, for introducing legislation yesterday to continue a higher income-tax surcharge on wealthy New Yorkers — the same day taxpayers voted on school budgets. The education advocates were unhappy that state education spending was chopped by $1.3 billion this year.
The Democrat-led Assembly wanted the surcharge included in the 2011-12 budget, which took effect April 1, but the Republican-controlled Senate and Gov. Andrew Cuomo opposed it. A higher income-tax rate on taxpayers who make more than $200,000 expires Dec. 31. The Assembly bill would continue the higher income-tax bracket for people who earn more than $1 million through 2012. The legislation has little chance of success.
“Speaker Silver is showing tremendous leadership for recognizing the state has an obligation to fairly fund public schools and, in fact, should be sharing in the investment being made by local taxpayers in better learning opportunities for students,” New York State United Teachers President Richard Iannuzzi said in a statement.
“In every corner of the state, New Yorkers, after carefully examining the difficult choices made by their school boards, voted ‘yes’ in near record numbers on school budgets to ensure students and education programs did not suffer further harm. Voters showed they value public education, support their local schools and recognize that teachers and other employees have, too, sacrificed in order to preserve programs and jobs. The state – and the wealthy — must do their part, too,” he said.
NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta said 80 percent of New Yorkers oppose education cuts.
This is a statement from Billy Easton, executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education:
“The school budget votes resoundingly show that local taxpayers are prepared to do their part, unfortunately thousands of teachers and hundreds of programs will be lost as a result of Governor Cuomo’s massive cuts in state funding. There is still time to restore some teachers and programs; yesterday Assembly Speaker Silver reintroduced the millionaires’ tax with funding set aside for schools, but we need Governor Cuomo’s leadership.
“Yesterday’s vote shows that New Yorkers want to protect the quality of education. The tax cap proposed by the Governor would take the power of this vote out of the hands of local voters and would enforce additional damaging cuts on the classroom.”