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Letter: New tech debt for schools is unwise

Individual donors now have carte blanche from New

Individual donors now have carte blanche from New York State to contribute more than $150,000 a year to fund as many candidates and political groups as they choose, just in time for this year's high stakes statewide elections. Credit: iStock

In response to "Hurting in the burbs" [News, Sept. 4], taxes are the problem. The most important issue for struggling Long Islanders is lowering Long Island's property taxes, particularly school taxes.

This November, we will vote to elect a governor and all 213 members of the State Legislature. Voters who care about tax relief should know about a very important vote taken by the legislature during its most recent session: the approval of a voter referendum called the Smart Schools Bond Act. It is a $2-billion blank check to school districts to pay for technology and connectivity -- items that should be included in yearly district school budgets. Instead, this increases spending and adds to taxpayer-backed debt.

Long Island school districts have a history of excessive use of bonding, which is essentially a mortgage backed by the taxes on property owners. Long Island schools are readying a number of new bond proposals to get around the property tax cap now in place. Often blatantly promoted, they have turned into a political con game perpetrated on taxpayers.

If the bonds are approved, other money can be freed up to give raises and perks to teachers and administrators. Bonding effectively negates the tax cap, because bonded projects are exempt from the cap.

There should be plenty of money and no need for additional debt issuance, certainly not for new classroom space, considering the Island's declining enrollments.

Andrea Vecchio, East Islip

Editor's note: The writer is an activist with the taxpayer groups East Islip TaxPAC and Long Islanders for Educational Reform.