ALBANY, N.Y. (March 26, 2020) — In response to Governor Cuomo’s remarks Thursday regarding the New York State budget, the public education advocacy organization Alliance for Quality Education released the following statement:
“The COVID-19 pandemic is hurling New York State into a fiscal crisis. Governor Cuomo can either balance the budget on the backs of children and their education, or he can ask the wealthy and ultra rich to contribute a little more.
“There are 112 billionaires in New York that have a combined wealth of $525 billion — almost 5 times New York State’s annual budget. A small tax on New York’s ultra rich would close the budget deficit, without harming our children and their future,” said Jasmine Gripper, Executive Director, Alliance for Quality Education.
“Budgets are about priorities and choices. Governor Cuomo can choose to protect children and their families, or he can choose to protect his billionaire campaign donors.
“In 2011 when New York faced a financial crisis, Governor Cuomo chose to balance the State budget by taking money from Black, Brown and low income school districts. His first year in office, Governor Cuomo cut over $1 billion from public schools, while giving a tax cut to the ultra-rich. High need districts rely heavily on the state for school funding; any significant reduction in state aid to schools disproportionately impacts students in low-income communities. The rampant inequity in New York’s public schools was shameful before the COVID-19 outbreak. The last thing on the Governor’s agenda should be cutting much needed funding from our public schools.
“Quality of education should not be determined by a family’s ZIP code, yet this is the reality for many of New York’s children. Many students didn’t have soap in their school bathrooms before the COVID-19 pandemic started. There are students who are home right now without access to remote learning, because their families and school districts cannot afford laptops. New York has a record number of students who are homeless and in dire need of educational support and permanent housing. Cuts to education would mean our most vulnerable students would fall even further behind.
“Governor Cuomo and state leaders are days away from finalizing the state budget. Once again, the Governor is asking New York’s children to bear the brunt of this fiscal crisis. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins must stand up to the Governor, and speak out about how to guarantee all children access to a quality education. It’s time to fight to protect Brown, Black, and low income children over the ultra-rich and corporations.”