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Protect children’s education despite state budget problems

Thanks to everyone who joined our petition to Gov. David Paterson to restore the education funding to our schools. Our collective actions have forced the governor to repay school districts and local governments the money he withheld last month. We objected to this plan because it meant balancing the budget on the backs of our children.

He withheld $750 million in payments to school districts and local governments after the state Legislature disagreed with his call for additional spending cuts to close the $3.2 billion budget deficit, rationalizing the action was necessary to keep the state from running out of cash.

Meanwhile, as the economic recession continues, our governor and legislative leaders continue to throw away $1 million a day — that is $350 million for 2009 — in lost revenues and leave the $200 million upfront payment on the table due to their indecision on Aqueduct Race Track. This is vitally needed cash for the state.

Moreover, despite not selecting a bidder thus far, the governor has already added the $200 million upfront payment toward this year’s budget deficit. We now run the risk of losing that sum for this fiscal year. Where is the fiscal responsibility?

The governor confirmed state revenues have rebounded and he will begin making the education payments starting last Friday. But the problem is far from over and we have to keep the pressure up to protect our children’s future because he has threatened to withhold payments again in March.

“So that will be the end of this chapter, but not the end of this problem because we have another $12 [billion] or $13 billion that need to be paid in March. And once again we’re worrying about where our revenues are,” he said on WOR’s “John Gambling Show.”

As our woes grow, home foreclosures have increased in New York City, a troubling sign for the new year. With city unemployment at 10 percent, the number of New Yorkers at risk of losing their homes last month surged 84.3 percent compared with December 2008 and though recently approved mortgage relief legislation should help stave off foreclosures, the outlook remains bleak for our communities in the face of these indecisive actions.

Albert Baldeo

Ozone Park

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