Public schools see many rising costs
The April 3 Newsday editorial, “The vexing riddle of school funding,” asked why school districts with fewer students but increases in state aid haven’t cut their taxes.
Agreeing that Long Island has too many districts to reach peak efficiency, I think consolidation would offer only limited savings; merging districts would undoubtedly have to be accomplished at the highest salaries of the districts to be viable.
Also, it’s myopic to disregard factors that push budgets higher. Substantial increases in costs of special education and English language programs, many with large infusions of undocumented and other immigrant populations, along with the added costs from state, federal and court-ordered mandates for these populations, are driving factors.
New costs for school safety have grown exponentially. Health care costs have risen well past 2 percent inflation. Pension costs will rise by double digits this year, according to the state comptroller, and could easily be larger next year. Contractual long-term step increases in pay add costs apart from yearly negotiated increases, which have been limited for several years.
For most districts, fewer students does not easily reduce the cost of education. A class of 22 has the same costs as a class of 25. Where state aid has increased, it has not kept up with the fixed costs of districts and is, in most cases, a lower percentage of the total budget than five or 10 years ago.
With a property tax cap of 2 percent and the new federal limit on tax deductibility of income and property taxes, most districts will find it difficult to maintain present programming.
Roger Tilles, Great Neck
Editor’s note: The writer represents Long Island on the state Board of Regents.
Why the rush to let parolees vote?
As for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s statement about parolees having done their time, no, they actually haven’t done their time [“Gov: Parolees can vote,” News, April 19]. They are getting out of prison early.
As the law is now, they just have to wait until their parole is over to vote. It’s not unheard of for parolees to commit crimes while still on parole. Do we really need their input that badly?
Craig Aarseth, Massapequa
Schumer can lead Pompeo opposition
Sen. Chuck Schumer’s leadership is needed in opposing Mike Pompeo for secretary of state [“Trump tweets on Korea, flap, Comey,” News, April 19].
Pompeo’s anti-gay and anti-Muslim rhetoric makes him the wrong choice to represent our nation. He denies the proven science on climate change, one of our greatest security threats. As Senate minority leader, Schumer must defend America’s interests by saying no to Pompeo.
Joseph M. Varon, West Hempstead
Editor’s note: The writer is a volunteer with Food and Water Watch, an advocacy organization in Manhasset.
Employers should share tax-plan benefits
After President Donald Trump’s tax reform debacle was passed/pushed through Congress, some corporations realized an incredible boon for their current and future profits [“NY payroll tax plan has uncertain future,” News, April 6].
Already being cash rich from a growing economy, businesses figured that throwing some crumbs to their employees would be a nice publicity gesture. Some increased starting salaries, while others gave bonuses. Bonuses are one-shot short-term gifts that will not have long-term effects on their balance sheets.
After the effects of this tax debacle hit our deficit numbers, Trump and his cohorts will have to find ways to reduce spending, and we all know where: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will be the obvious places to start chipping away.
To corporations that are sitting pretty, I ask, why not start or reinstate pension plans and retiree health insurance programs? This might ease the pain.
My generation will be the first to have the dubious honor of our children being unable to realize the American dream as we did.
Bob Doyle, West Islip