Morning Read: Hundreds rally in W’town against education cuts

The Watertown Daily Times is reporting this morning that roughly 400 people turned out yesterday for a rally at Case Middle School in favor of reinstating funds for public education.

“We are ground zero in the north country for cuts,” said Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, who spoke at the rally. “In the north country, we’re rural, we’re poor and we’re taking it on the chin.”

The rally was put on by New York State United Teachers and the Alliance for Quality Education, and teacher, parent and student representatives all spoke.

Representatives of the organizations shared information about the proposed budgets and education in New York state, and they led the crowd in chants of “support our kids, not millionaires,” protesting the “millionaire’s tax” that is due to expire this year.

But the Associated Press is reporting this morning that the so-called millionaires’ tax is going nowhere in Albany.  This via the Plattsburgh Press Republican.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders indicated Wednesday that the so-called “millionaire’s tax” the Assembly hopes will reverse Cuomo’s proposed deep cuts to school funding is sinking.

Republican Senate leader Dean Skelos said that as far as he’s concerned, the surcharge aimed at New Yorkers making $1 million and more a year is dead.

He said he and the Democratic governor remain strongly opposed in the three-way negotiations with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

So what do you think?  Should Albany tap the wealthy for more pain?  Or is it time for schools to downsize?  Comments welcome, as always.

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37 Comments on “Morning Read: Hundreds rally in W’town against education cuts”

  1. Bret4207 says:

    You can increase the tax on those making $500K or more and it’s still not going to solve the problem. We- have- to- cut- spending. It’s that simple. If you all want to keep the status quo then taxes are going to have to rise significantly across the board, from those barely making anything to those making millions.

  2. tootightmike says:

    Then cut spending where the problem actually lies. No more for Halliburton and their friends. No more military adventures in the middle east.

  3. marcus aurelius says:

    If this surcharge is already in place, then by not continuing it, people making over $1 million dollars will be getting a tax cut. Meanwhile, close to two hundred school employees will lose their jobs in St. Lawrence County alone. I don’t know a single person who earns a million dollar salary and would benefit from this tax cut. I’m sure we all know someone who works in a school who will lose their job. More importantly, the lost opportunities for our region’s school children are just that – lost.

  4. PNElba says:

    Who is saying a tax surcharge on millionaires is going to solve any budget problems? We need tax increases on people who can afford them and we need spending cuts where they won’t hurt our future. We need to solve our budget problems fairly and not on the backs of working middle class families and the poor. Let’s have true shared sacrifice.

  5. Pete Klein says:

    I think it is a total joke when our so called representatives in Albany and Washington say they are for education and then cut funds for education.
    They do this while adding more and more unfunded mandates, including the latest effort to require CPR instruction and passing the course in order to graduate from high school.
    They are all liars. They want an uneducated public so they may continue to advance their own selfish agenda.

  6. JDM says:

    If they tax the rich – the rich will leave. It’s a lose-lose.

    How about getting spending under control? There’s a novel thought.

  7. marcus aurelius says:

    New York City is home to more billionaires than any other city in the world.

    This is a tax that is already being paid, so we are actually talking about a tax cut.

  8. Walker says:

    JDM, where are they going to go? NYC is the center of their universe. Don’t worry, they’ll stay.

    And Bret, what do you base your claim on? Crank those taxes on the wealthy up until it DOES solve the problem! And get rid of the sweetheart deal that hedge fund managers enjoy.

    Trouble is, it looks like Cuomo has been bought off– raising taxes on tthose who can afford o pay them are off the table

  9. JDM says:

    Walker, don’t kid yourself. Billionaires got to be rich because they are smart. They will find a way around the tax thing, and still stay in the center of the universe.

    Ask ol’ John Kerry where he’s parking his yacht these days.

    We can’t keeping heaping on taxes and ignore the spending problem.

  10. scratchy says:

    tootightmike says:
    “Then cut spending where the problem actually lies. No more for Halliburton and their friends. No more military adventures in the middle east.”
    I hope you’re aware that those things are funded by the federal, and not state government.

    Walker says:
    “JDM, where are they going to go? NYC is the center of their universe. Don’t worry, they’ll stay. ”
    What about the millions of NYers who have left the state in recent years? Don’t think people are tied to NYC, because they aren’t

    In any event, there are several ways districts could save money.
    Local school districts could save a lot of money by having their employees pay the same amount to health insurance that state workers pay.

    Employees with more than 10 years of service should be reqired to contribute to their pension plan.

    Some districts should consolidate and the legislature should allow districts to dismiss teachers who fail to perform.

  11. phahn50 says:

    JDM “employees with more than 10 years of service….” what you are saying is that they should take a pay cut. Since most are already paid less than their private sector counterparts (even including benefits), this doesnt seem like a really seem like a “fair” proposal.

  12. scratchy says:

    “what you are saying is that they should take a pay cut. Since most are already paid less than their private sector counterparts (even including benefits), this doesnt seem like a really seem like a “fair” proposal.”

    How many people in the private sector get the summers off or can retire at age 55?

  13. dbw says:

    No tax increases may work for this year, but next year the the state budget deficit is estimated to be $14.7 billion and $17.0 billion the year after.

  14. phahn50 says:

    Scratchy – anybody can retire anytime they want to, and a teacher getting no pay for 3 months isnt any better off than a construction worker not getting any work during the winter.

  15. scratchy says:

    “No tax increases may work for this year, but next year the the state budget deficit is estimated to be $14.7 billion and $17.0 billion the year after.”

    Those numbers are before this year’s budget is balanced. Eliminate this year’s deficit through recurring savings and those two numbers go down because the starting level of spending will be lower.

    “Scratchy – anybody can retire anytime they want to, and a teacher getting no pay for 3 months isnt any better off than a construction worker not getting any work during the winter.”
    Anyone can retire anytime they want to? That’s a very ignorant statement.

  16. oa says:

    Some billionaires got that way not because they were smart, but because they cheated. I guess it’s smart if you can get away with it.

  17. Pete Klein says:

    As I have said before, what is happening is a divide and conquer strategy. Let’s pit all workers against all workers while those at the top, including elected officials in Albany and Washington, get free health care and fantastic pensions, plus perks.
    They think we are idiots and want us to remain so. That’s why they don’t want to fund education. Keep the average schmuck as uneducated as possible, working from pay check to pay check, and keep their women barefoot and pregnant.

  18. Paul says:


    What happened to your 10 questions blog?

  19. mervel says:

    It seems like education would be at the bottom of things the state would cut. States spend big bucks to do three things, educate, medicate and incarcerate (I heard the Gov of Montana say that; I really like him). Education is the future you would cut that last, you would cut corrections first, medical second then get into education. You could also make deep cuts in the big Albany bureaucracies, OMH, DOH, and OCFS and so forth before you should touch education.
    Tax increases won’t work because they have never worked in the past, the money is just sucked up in the morass of spending and corruption. I say keep the tax surcharge on those making over 500K as it stands right now; but regardless it won’t make any real difference it will still be sucked into the black hole. We have to cut spending I just think there is so much more you could cut without even having to start with education.

  20. Pete Klein says:

    How about taking the millions and millions collected from the backs of tobacco users and putting that money into schools.
    Let’s be real here. The government is Big Tobacco, not the tobacco companies and certainly not the growers of tobacco.
    I know. What about the Lottery? That too. All of it and stop wasting money on ads for the Lottery.
    Cuts? Let’s take away the free health insurance and pensions paid to elected officials before cutting anything from workers, both public and private.
    Don’t want to tax the millionaires? Fine but lets tax all government workers making more than $200,000, including elected officials, at a 90% tax rate and leave the poor millionaires alone.

  21. tootightmike says:

    What gets into people anyway? What causes folks to defend the poor millionaires. Do you suppose that you’ll be a millionaire too someday?
    Higher taxes have worked well in the past. Oh the rich groaned and growled, but we built the interstate highway system. Let’s raise taxes, have great schools, and put a train station in every town. Let the rich who care to invest in something real build windfarms, light rail systems, and solar panel factories. Let the idle rich, living on great grandpa’s slave trade profits, rot.

  22. Mervel says:

    But none of those things will happen, they have not happened yet and we have the highest taxes in the nation. Sure I don’t mind taxing the rich right now and I support keeping this surcharge we have a lot of really rich people and we should tax them fairly. But don’t be fooled the corruption is too deep in New York State, the money will never build anything different than what we have right it will simply maintain the machine and go into the New York state corruption hole and we will continue to decay the way we are now.

  23. Mervel says:

    If high taxes made a difference we should have the best infrastructure, the best schools and the fewest poor people in the country. But we don’t we are in the middle somewhere, states with lower tax rates do better on all of those measures, why is that?

  24. scratchy says:

    Why does NY need 700 school districts, which requires 7000 superintendents, labor negotiatioers, attorneys, committees on special education, athletic directors, business managers, human resources specialists, etc.? There are ways of cutting education that have minimal impact on education.

  25. Mervel says:

    What is frustrating scratchy is that the first thing that happens is not that the education machine reforms itself through consolidation or reduction of administration loads, no the first thing these guys do is lay off classroom teachers the go right to the muscle. I mean we as a state have money to pay multiple DOH inspectors to run around Canton and SLC shutting down chili cook-offs, but we lay off people who actually make a long term difference for generations in the lives of our community and let the leaches hang on.

  26. Bret4207 says:

    To address a couple of points-

    The reason some people are against taxing “millionaires” more? Because all that happens is that the money doens’t fix “the problem” which results in calls to tax “half Millionaires” and the same thing happens and eventually it trickles down to call to tax you and me more. Spending is the problem, not revenue. If you want to remain with the status quo as far as programs, etc., then we have to raise taxes significantly higher across the whole spectrum of taxpayers. If you don’t want to do that and you want to eliminate the deficit you have to cut spending. This is pretty basic stuff. In an era of falling job growth, falling revenue and rising deficits doing the same old tax and spend and borrow and spend is unsustainable.

    Education shouldn’t be cut. The problem is when we talk about cuts to education we often aren’t talking about education at all. What we’re talking about is State aid that allows for non-educational items like sports or that benefit a tiny minority of students, or to fund more assistants to the assistant vice assistant Principals secretary.

    As far as the politicians vs workers vs public employees, etc., yeah, some of you got it right. But until the public demands principled, forthright, honest character from our politicians then this is what we’ll get.

  27. phahn50 says:

    Bret – thats and interesting justification for protecting the wealthy from more taxation. First they tax the billionaires, then the millionaires and eventually they tax you and me. From a practical point of view, if they cant get the money from the wealthy, they will get it from you and me. There are lots of taxes that the wealthy dont pay very much like sales tax and property tax, gasoline tax, real estate transfer tax, auto registration tax etc. Those get raised instead. Your solution – lets reduce programs that benefit for the very poor (welfare) so we dont need the tax – has its own problems. Thats not to say that there arent state programs that cant be eliminated without hurting anybody. I would get rid of the thruway authority and replace any money they bring in by increasing gasoline tax a couple of pennies.

    Personally – I think that progressive income taxation is the fairest tax- the very wealthy can afford it more than the very poor. This is a battle that has been fought since FDRs time.

  28. Pete Klein says:

    We need to be very careful here in the North Country when it comes to schools, an education and the students.
    It is easy to argue that our small schools are expensive on a per student basis and the solution should be to consolidate.
    But there are two main problems with this idea.
    One and most importantly, our kids are already being transported great distances to go to school. More consolidation will subject them to longer and longer rides on the bus. Maybe the Governor would like to give up his mansion in Albany and commute everyday from NYC, driving his own car everyday and without an SP escort.
    Two, if you really want to drive people out of the Adirondacks, especially those with children, more consolidation is a fantastic idea. Our small towns will become smaller and no one will want to live here, not even well off retirees because there won’t be anyone left to volunteer for the ambulance or fire departments.
    Is that the plan?

  29. phahn50 says:

    Bret – I apologize – I didnt really respond to what you actually wrote. There are well-meaning state mandated programs – like providing aides for autistic children – that are very expensive but only benefit a very small minority of kids. There are lots of those types of programs.

  30. Bret4207 says:

    Phan, I’m not calling for protecting millionaires or even people making $500K or $150K. What I’m saying is that every time we raise taxes on one group we end up not seeing that tax money solve the problem we raised the taxes for in the first place. So then we have to raise other taxes and so on and then the politicians see the revenue increase and call for more spending. It’s a never ending cycle and we have to stop it. Another example- Lotto. The Lotto was supposed to fund education and wipe out increases in our school tax bills. Instead it’s become another tax per se on many lower income people who are dumb enough to stand in live because, “Hey, you never know…”.

    As far as the loop holes for the wealthy, you want to close them I’m right there with ya pal. You figure out a way to do it and I’ll back you 100%. Just be warned there’s going to be a lot of very, very wealthy liberal Democrats fighting you tooth and nail alongside their equally wealthy Republican neighbors.

    And yes, there are very important programs aimed at special needs kids. There are also programs aimed at benefiting a tiny minority of exceptional musicians, artists, dancers, athletes, mathematicians etc. that I think should be underwritten by the industry that needs them. Or, if they’re really gifted then maybe we should have some specialized schools just for them rather than having hundreds of programs across the state that are relatively inefficient compared to a special school where they could really study whatever it is they excel at.

    I’m just looking at the reality of the situation. We have an unsustainable
    system that is failing in multiple ways. So far our onlt answer is good old method “A”- throw vast amounts of money at the problem with no expectation of success.

  31. phahn50 says:

    Bret – I agree mostly except the part about the wealth liberal democrats fighting tooth and nail…. This seems to ideologically transcend class. e.g. Warren Buffet says he should be paying more taxes. Thats not to say that we dont all massage our tax returns to pay as little as (legally) possible.

  32. Bret4207 says:

    Oh for goodness sake Phan! You don’t think for a second that Buffet, Moore, Gates etc. haven’t got enough $$$ off shore where the gov’t will never see it to fund themselves for eternity? Comon’ guy. If the liberals truly meant what they said they’d be doing what guys like John Huntsman are doing and using that money for good projects that they run and fund and intend to die broke. Instead they say the gov’t should have the money. Sorry, but that’s either political payback or sheer stupidity.

  33. Mervel says:

    Greed covers the entire political spectrum. You can have the highest ideals and still cheat on your taxes and hide your income and be corrupt. I mean look at Charlie Rangle or Ted Kennedy etc. Honor is the same way both Left and Right can and do include honorable men and women who we may disagree with but in their actions show who they really are.

  34. CJ says:

    Do you think that we should take a look at how education is done where it’s more sucessful? Other countries seem to be ahead of us and other states seem to get better results with less spending. Maybe we should look at best practices and learn how to do it better.

  35. Mervel says:

    I totally agree.

  36. Pete Klein says:

    If you look close at some of the other countries that test better than here, I just might find that education is not as universal as here.
    If you concentrate on the best and leave the others behind, you are going to look better than those who have their test scores averaged to include the best and the worst.
    Is that what we want? It’s beginning to look that way.

  37. Conrad says:

    If you look at the best school sysytems in the world they all have the same thing in common;administrators and teachers are paid a similar salary which is very fair, and they do not believe in standardized testing.

    Their performance is based on the percenrtage of students who graduate and go to college, not how they perform on a single test.
    If you look at Finland they have 3% of students living in poverty, in the US it is 20%.

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