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Letters: The property tax cap and New York State issues

New York State Sen. James Gaughran, seen on

New York State Sen. James Gaughran, seen on Dec. 14, 2018. Credit: Barry Sloan

Since January, the Democratic majorities in the New York State Senate and Assembly have passed a raft of legislation that Republicans blocked for years, fulfilling their mandate from voters to effect change on crucial issues of equal access and equal treatment under the law. They passed updates to reproductive health laws, provided for comprehensive contraception coverage, prohibited discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression, extended the rights of sex-abuse victims and adopted new gun controls.

These bills are important to Democrats and people of conscience statewide, not just in New York City, but the Newsday editorial board notably left out any specific mention of them in the Jan. 27 editorial, “Albany haste, and rookie mistakes.” To suggest these issues don’t matter to Long Islanders as much as a permanent tax cap is presumptuous, insulting and incorrect.

Voters did not show up in November and flip four Long Island State Senate seats because of taxes. The unjustifiable and politically stupid act would be for our newly elected representatives to horse-trade with the rights and protections of Long Islanders in exchange for a permanent tax cap. That is not why we put them in office.

Adam Young, Port Washington

Contentious debate around school property tax caps has broken out, and I am tired of it.

It’s time we acknowledge that property taxes are an awful school-funding mechanism. Why should impoverished communities on Long Island be forced to endure underfunded schools while Long Island’s privileged class enjoys the highest standard? It’s fundamentally unjust to give a leg up to wealthy students while disadvantaging the poor. If we really want educational equality, the de facto racial and economic segregation present in Long Island school districts must be addressed. Why shouldn’t children from West Islip attend schools with their peers from Brentwood?

If we’re going to stay committed to the flawed mechanism of property taxes, we at least should afford poor students the same opportunities members of Long Island’s bourgeoisie enjoy. To expect poverty-stricken school districts with small tax bases to be able to offer education on par with wealthier districts is to be willfully ignorant, and we must work to rectify this gross injustice.

Vincent Vertuccio, Sayville

Editor’s note: The writer is a sophomore at Sayville High School.

Lane Filler’s column “Backward logic of tax cap opponents” [Opinion, Jan. 30] touched on whether opponents should push for greater funding to address poverty, hunger, housing and joblessness instead of simply opposing the cap on property-tax increases.

In fact, most opponents of the cap are fierce advocates for increased funding in these areas of great social need. But the debate about the tax cap misses a critical question: Should significant education funding come from property taxes?

Using taxes based on property values to provide resources to fund education perpetuates poverty and racial discrimination. With or without a property tax cap, the quality of educational opportunity will still be determined by ZIP codes unless we are willing to significantly address the broader issues of poverty, homelessness, housing and hunger through a more progressive statewide income tax or other statewide levy.

Equal educational opportunity will be achieved only by first fully addressing poverty and discrimination.

Richard C. Iannuzzi, Smithtown

Editor’s note: The writer is a past president of the New York State United Teachers union and taught in Central Islip schools for 34 years.