Queens schools could be hard hit if the state Assembly and Senate pass Gov. George Patakis proposed budget in its current form.
But Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Gifford Miller (D-Manhattan) along with several council members headed to Albany Monday to fight the governors proposed $204 million bond issue for teachers salaries and a $15 million cut in the citys education funding.
City Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis) said the Pataki bond issue does not address the issue of money owed the city under State Supreme Court Judge LeLand Degrasses ruling in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, which found the city had not received its equal share of education funding over the years.
We dont want to be shortchanged, said Weprin, who is chairman of the Councils powerful Finance Committee.
The bond issue, said Miller, will allow the city to borrow $204 million for teacher pay hikes, but does not cover the more than $400 million already owed under the Degrasse ruling.
It appears that the governor has turned a deaf ear to the cries of New York Citys teachers and students, he said. This is more smoke and mirrors to cover up for the fact that the citys school system is not receiving the funds it deserves.
Miller asked the Legislature to work with the city to arrive at a fair and equitable formula.
Weprin said the borough is home to many teachers who suffer from insufficient salaries. He said many teachers who live in northern Queens his council district teach in Nassau County because salaries there are 30 to 40 percent higher.
In addition to the fight over school funding, the city officials called on the governor to restore the commuter tax repealed in 1999. New York City has lost between $360 and $500 million as a result of that repeal.
Weprin said he did not think Pataki would touch the commuter tax because it is an election year. The governor hopes to win a third term in Albany in November.
Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.
©2002 Community News Group
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