Levy, though, said he doubted Cuomo would take a step that some in his party might interpret as an overt attempt to hurt Democratic electoral chances. “It’s one thing to have major Republican figures on Long Island say good things about you ... It will help drive up his margins of victory,” Levy said. “But it's another thing to be actively working to defeat Democrats, which can have ramifications for him both in the state and if he should try to run for president.”
Cuomo’s office did not respond to multiple phone calls and an email seeking comment.
For now, at least some in the 8th District worry about how the district will fare in the state’s budget process, which is currently under way, without a senator to fight for constituents’ interests in Albany.
“It’s definitely cause for concern,” said David Feller, superintendent of the North Merrick School District and president of the Nassau County Council of School Superintendents. “I do feel that the timing is not great, because you want more hands on deck when you’re fighting a battle that’s as important as school aid and what’s best for children.”
New York distributes aid dollars to school districts through the state budget, which the Legislature is required to adopt by April 1. Sen. John Flanagan, a Republican from Northport, who is chairman of the State Senate’s Education Committee, met in late January with several 8th District school superintendents to discuss education funding. He offered to do what he could to help, while working with other Long Island state senators.
“We work very clearly together as a delegation,” Flanagan said. “Issues in the 8th Senate District have a lot of similarities to my own … and I had many, many, many conversations about funding for education with Senator Fuschillo while we served together.”
As the Senate prepares its version of the budget this month, there will be a “significant focus on more money going back to districts to reduce their Gap Elimination Adjustment,” Flanagan asserted. The GEA is money the state takes from school districts’ aid to help fill its revenue shortfall.
Feller, however, remained wary. He called the school aid figures in Cuomo’s 2014-15 budget proposal “woefully inadequate.”