Reductions in “high tax aid,” which the state has traditionally given to mostly downstate school districts with higher costs and relatively high property tax rates, may turn out to be a huge stumbling block in this year’s school budgeting process.
This year, Governor Cuomo has cut the money available for high tax aid by about 70 percent in order to
balance the state budget, leaving Oceanside with $768,934 less in state aide this year and Island Park with $127,196 less. For Oceanside, that is a 4.83 percent cut, and for Island Park it is 7 percent. The cuts would take place when the State Legislature vets the governor’s budget, which is not expected to happen until April.
Administrators said they would work with local State Senate and Assembly representatives to roll back the governor’s cuts in order to make more money available for high tax aid.
Herb Brown, superintendent of the Oceanside schools, reacted angrily to Cuomo’s proposed spending plan. “The governor promised us that there would be a three to four percent across-the-board statewide raise in funding because of the new tax cap regulations, and he didn’t do it across the board,” Brown told the Herald. “It was a promise not kept, and Oceanside will lose $700,000. We are not at all happy about his failure to keep his promise.”
Brown added, “The high tax aid was there for a reason. It helped many Long Island school districts where property taxes and school taxes are high. That budget category, one of many, helped us keep vital programs. Now Cuomo has cut that category by $50
Brown said that he would meet soon with Republicans in the State Legislature to urge them to reverse the cut. “This is not a budget, just a proposal,” he said. “I’m going to meet with [State Senator Dean] Skelos, [Assemblyman Brian] Curran and [Assemblyman Harvey] Weisenberg and make it clear to each of them that the cuts must be rescinded.”
Until April, when a final state budget is expected, Brown said that he would work with his staff and the community to come up with a realistic budget.