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No federal COVID aid means 20 percent state cuts

Sep 10, 2020 6:33 am
Rachel Silberstein reports in the Times Union that New York schools and municipalities are struggling with finances due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and help from Washington D.C. does not seem to be coming. The House of Representatives passed additional funds for state and local governments months ago, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell won't allow a vote on the bill. Instead, McConnell announced his own COVID-19 measure this week, but it does not include funding for state and local governments. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has promised 20 percent cuts for months if the feds do not come through with money. So in New York, Democratic legislators are proposing raising money in other ways, including taxing second homes, fees on yacht sales, a pied-à-terre tax, a stock transfer tax, and an "ultra-millionaires tax." All the measures target citizens who can afford to pay the taxes, to help less fortunate New Yorkers. Schools in Albany County, facing $24 million in lost revenue, voted this week to lay off more than 220 people. "Our neighbors in Albany and Schenectady are the first to be hit, but it won’t be long before district after district across the state is affected as well," said Niskayuna School Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra Jr. And the the New York State United Teachers Union is adding more pressure, preparing to sue the state for its decision to withhold the 20 percent of funding from school districts. “No school district or student is immune to the adverse impacts of a 20 percent cut to state education aid,” NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said. “But what makes this all the more egregious is the disproportionate impact that cuts have on our neediest schoolchildren." U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, wants McConnell, a Republican, to act. “The bottom line is very simple: our schools here in the Capital Region and throughout the state and country need state and federal aid," he said. "They need aid now." Read more about this story in the Times Union.
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