Today’s news:

Students as Pawns

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has yet to back away from its plan to charge New York City students if they want to ride a bus to get to school. At a rally last week, members of the state Assembly, teachers and union leaders made it clear that doing away with student MetroCards is not acceptable.

On behalf of the city’s 585,000 students, these leaders called the proposal disgusting, immoral and shameful. They believe the students are being used as pawns and they are right. The strategy is simple: threaten to cut where it will hurt the most.

It is not hard to imagine how devastating cutting the student MetroCard could be. Poorer students may decide that it is cheaper and easier to stay home. Some families will be able to absorb the added transportation costs, but other families will not be able to afford the additional costs.

Quite simply that means students living in the poorest homes may be denied an intermediate and high school education. That is completely unacceptable.

The MTA claims it is facing a shortfall of about $800 million resulting in part of state budget cuts. The crisis at the MTA is real, but the MTA’s solution is unacceptable. We are confident the MTA can save this much money and more without hurting students.

Taxpayers as Pawns

The governor is starting to play tough. The governor has threatened to delay refunds for people who have yet to file their state tax returns. The move might be enough to keep the state from going broke before the end of the fiscal year April 1.

The state is facing a $1.4 billion deficit.

We understand the state finds itself between a rock and a hard place. But not sending the refunds in a timely manner is a betrayal of taxpayer trust. It also becomes self-defeating because the state and city will lose out on the sales tax when people are unable to make large purchases with the refund they did not get.

There are other ways the bloated state government can save money without abusing taxpayer trust.

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