Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Parent groups show support for Spitzer's education plan

Yancey Roy Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Hopefully...by the close of polls tonight..there will be one less "long island" republican senator opposed to educational spending reform....and Bruno wonders why Spitzer wants to get control of the State Senate???

February 6, 2007) — ALBANY — Gov. Eliot Spitzer's school-funding plan got a boost Monday from education groups that want the state to spend billions of dollars more on needy schools.
The Campaign for Fiscal Equity, a parents-based group that successfully sued the state over inadequate school funding for New York City, said Spitzer's plan to increase funding by $7 billion over the next four years represents a new commitment to schools. They were joined by the upstate-based Alliance for Quality Education at a news conference that was more of a pep rally.
The governor's proposal centers on the idea of giving all districts essentially inflation-based increases this year and even greater increases to needy districts. To do so, he must convince suburban-based Republican legislators who annually fight to spread all increases more evenly. State school aid for the current academic year is about $17.8 billion.
Asked by a reporter, Spitzer said his news conference was not a message to Sen. Joseph Bruno, leader of the Senate Republicans, rather a "message for the Legislature writ large."
However, advocates were clear the idea hinges more on the GOP-controlled Senate than the downstate, Democrat-dominated Assembly."This is the type of reform that the Assembly has consistently supported in past years," said Billy Easton of the Alliance for Quality Education. "We're very encouraged by that fact. But we think that there is some reason to be concerned about what will happen in the state Senate. They have already expressed reservations about this type of funding reform, and this is the type of funding reform that in past years the Senate has opposed."
In fact, Senate Republicans have already signaled they will battle Spitzer on this issue."We have a great concern over education dollars," Bruno said when the governor delivered his budget proposal.
Long Island senators, who more than any other delegation has guarded the traditional "share" their schools have received, were more blunt."We're going to stand our ground and demand that we are treated fairly and that we get the property-tax relief and the school aid we deserve," Sen. Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, told Newsday.
Spitzer has said he was elected last fall to shake up the status quo and has promised to tour the state to promote his budget. Though Monday's event was held at the Capitol, aides acknowledged this was part of the effort to drum up support. The two groups on hand represent parent groups from the largest cities in the state. Among other things, they promised to distribute green balloons to every state legislator's office in Albany touting Spitzer's plan.

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