April 1, 2015
ALBANY, NY – Assemblyman Phil Palmesano issued a statement this afternoon about the budget:
“While the state budget contains some beneficial provisions for the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes Region, it also represents some missed opportunities in a number of important areas.
“I am pleased this budget provides for an increase in education aid to our school districts, particularly $603 Million towards eliminating the Gap Elimination Adjustment(GEA), increased aid for our libraries, community colleges, and local agricultural assistance programs to help support New York family farms.
I am disappointed that this budget fails to provide any tax relief for our families and small businesses or mandate relief for our municipalities and school districts. In addition, although I was pleased we were able to achieve a $50 million increase above the Governor’s proposed budget to restore his cut to local municipalities to fix and repair their local roads and bridges through the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Program (CHIPS) formula, it is woefully inadequate. With $5.4 billion in settlement funds available to disperse towards infrastructure improvements, we missed a tremendous opportunity to really partner with our local governments to address the growing need of repairing our crumbling local infrastructure. A stronger commitment would have promoted economic development and job creation while helping to ensure a safer and more reliable local transportation system for motorists and families.
Finally, one of the biggest problems with the budget is the governor’s unflinching insistence on the inclusion of teacher evaluations generated by high stakes Common Core testing. We should have sent a clear message that we reject subjecting our children to more standardized testing. Quite frankly, it is a big gamble to put our trust in the State Education Department to iron out this issue. This is the same entity that brought us Common Core and oversaw its disastrous implementation and rollout, while ignoring the concerns raised by parents and educators all across our state. On top of that, tying the teacher evaluation system to school aid is heavy-handed and wrong. To improve our education system, we must treat parents as partners, teachers as professionals and ensure our children’s self-worth and bright future is not measured by the results of high stakes standardized test scores. We can and must do better for our children.