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Assemblyman Hennessey: State must prioritize $4 billion windfall

Publication: 
Long Island Exchange
Aug
11
2014

Assemblyman Hennessey: State must prioritize $4 billion windfall - Invest in local roads and infrastructure, restore school aid funding, and provide tax relief

Assemblyman Edward Hennessey (D-Medford) is urging the governor to prioritize the state’s $4.2 billion windfall which is part of this year’s state surplus and use it for infrastructure improvements, tax relief, and to abolish the harmful Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) which has siphoned education funding from our schools and placed the burden on taxpayers.

Infrastructure:
Many local governments are financially strained and don’t have the funding to make the needed repairs to our roadways. That is where this surplus comes in. It will help make those necessary repairs creating safer, more reliable roads without further burdening local taxpayers.

“Infrastructure improvements are critical for our area to attract new businesses and create good-paying jobs,” Hennessey said. “Not only would these improvements provide a boost to our economy by making this area a better place to do business, but they would improve the quality of life for our children and families.”

School funding:
“The GEA has shortchanged our schools since 2009,” Assemblyman Hennessey said. “This coming year alone, the districts I represent are losing out on over $46 million in school aid because of the Gap Elimination Adjustment. This is entirely unacceptable. In addition to giving the schools their fair share, ending the GEA would also help undo the burden of high property taxes.”

Introduced in 2009-10, the GEA was instituted to help shrink the state’s $10 billion budget deficit. But since that time, it has drastically reduced state aid to school districts and unfairly burdened taxpayers. This year, Assemblyman Hennessey fought to restore $602 million to the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA), helping to reduce the negative financial impact on schools statewide. However, schools within the 3rd Assembly District are still owed the following:

Longwood Central School District – $7.1 million
Middle Country Central School District – $9 million
Patchogue-Medford School District – $6.5 million
Sachem School District – $14.3 million
South Country Central School District – $4.6 million
William Floyd School District – $5 million

“And now with this surplus, the state has the funding needed to finally provide schools and taxpayers with the funding they were promised,” said Hennessey.

Earlier this year, Assemblyman Hennessey introduced legislation that would completely eliminate the GEA and restore the full amount of school aid generated by all existing budget funding formulas (A.8720).

Tax relief:
Assemblyman Hennessey understands that property taxes are too high. That’s why he supported providing tax relief in this year’s budget. Tax relief is provided by the state if municipalities keep local taxes within the 2 percent tax cap.

“For too long, the state taxed and spent too much,” Hennessey said. “We’ve begun to change that but there’s more work to do. That is why I voted for two consecutive, on-time budgets that had the lowest tax rates in over 60 years, eliminated an energy tax, provided homeowners with tax rebate checks and reined in spending,” he said.