Makes the Right Choice for Schools. Veto Overrides Restore $1.1
Billion to Education
Assemblyman Steven Sanders
after year, Governor Pataki has tried to slash education spending,
and year after year, the Assembly restores it. In fact, prior
to this year, the Assembly had successfully restored $2.8 billion
of the Governor’s education cuts.
This year was no different. The Governor wanted to cut $1.4 billion
from schools. The Assembly and Senate came together to make a
better choice, restoring $1.1 billion for the coming school year.
Both houses voted to successfully override 119 Pataki vetoes.
As a result, effective education programs will be spared, and
here in New York City, our schools will receive a restoration
of upwards of $360 million—about 85 percent—of the $422 million
cut in the Governor’s budget. And this restoration is in addition
to the funding that was also included to underwrite costs associated
with the second year of the salary increases provided in the New
York City teachers’ contract, to help the school system, hopefully,
succeed in attracting— and retaining—qualified teachers. (Shamefully,
the Governor hadn’t budgeted even one dollar for teachers’ salaries
in New York City.)
Neither our state nor our children could afford the Governor’s
wrong choices. That is why the Assembly and Senate came together
in a spirit of bipartisanship to make the right choices for children
and to help sustain our most important early education programs.
Had the Governor’s vetoes been sustained, elementary and secondary
schools would have been slammed with the largest cuts in New York’s
history. In addition to eliminating early childhood education
programs, the Governor’s budget would have cut funding for after-school
programs, classroom technology and the necessary maintenance of
While the Governor wanted to shut the door on New York’s commitment
to our youngest students, the Legislature’s budget continues to
invest in universal pre-K, full-day kindergarten and smaller classes.
The Assembly has steadfastly championed the merits of early education
and the unique and lasting advantage it gives students.
Research shows that smaller class sizes and pre-kindergarten benefit
children through higher achievement, lower dropout rates, and
less disruptive behavior. Early education investments also save
money in the long run by reducing the need for costly special
education placements and helping prevent students from repeating
If the Governor had prevailed, approximately 240,000 students
would have lost the benefits of personal attention in smaller
classrooms, and 60,000 children would have been forced out of
pre-K. Another 60,000 would have been denied pre-K this coming
fall, losing an opportunity that can never be regained.
To protect these invaluable programs, the Legislature’s budget
fully funds early education and protects pre-K from elimination
by the Governor. At a time when our schools and children are facing
higher standards, as chairman of the Assembly Education Committee
I remain committed to ensuring, as do many of my colleagues in
both parties, that every student has access to a quality education
taught in a top-notch school.
The Governor’s assault on our schools was wrong-headed and unacceptable.
Now we need to move on and hope that the Governor provides the
leadership New York is depending on.#
Sanders is Chairman of the Assembly Education Committee. He can
be reached at (212) 979-9696 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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