ALBANY, N.Y. Assemblyman Robert J. Castelli (R, C Goldens Bridge) of the 89th Assembly District, which includes Pound Ridge and Lewisboro, criticized a bill passed by lawmakers last week that would allow school districts to defer their pension costs for the next 15 years by borrowing from state taxpayers to cover day-to-day expenses.
Castelli contends that the bill would give schools the ability to operate at current funding levels without having to make needed reforms to address fiscal realities, leading to massive debt and inevitably requiring substantial tax hikes.
This legislation represents the kind of bankrupt fiscal policies that got the state and nation into the current economic crisis, Castelli said. The bill is unsustainable, and is akin to taking out a high-interest loan to pay for ones groceries and utility bills. This is Albany math at its most perverse. A payment plan of this sort does not work for the average family and wont work out for school districts and our local taxpayers.
Castelli said the bill, which passed by an 85 to 49 margin, would allow school boards to bond for millions of dollars without taxpayer oversight, unlike a regular school board budget where each stakeholder has a say in the process.
Lawmakers should be working to reduce pension costs and other unfunded mandates for our school districts and local taxpayers, Castelli said. Instead of saddling future New Yorkers with more debt, we should be giving school districts the tools they need to lower costs.
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