Taxing Tuesday: a day early

It’s six weeks until most districts’ budget plans are put before for voters for consideration. I’ve submitted this week’s “Taxing Tuesday” a day early because tomorrow I’m on the road to Elmira city schools, where the small city district is considering deeper cuts to programs than last year. Yes, deeper cuts than last year, so it’s wise to think twice before accepting praise of the budget just approved.

Used to be that once the state budget was adopted and districts had their school aid figure, that pretty much answered a lot of questions about what stayed or was cut from the budget proposed to voters in May.

With local communities facing a tax cap this scenario has changed a bit. Today’s article from the Plattsburgh Press Republican lays it out pretty well.

It does help to have the state aid to education figures finalized. The double-edged sword was in large type in Saturday’s Buffalo regional roundup, with a headline of “School aid boost to save jobs, programs” with a subheadline of “Despite the good news from Albany, districts are still facing big budget gaps.”

The next few weeks are crucial as districts decide whether to override tax caps to try to save programs. Weighing heavily is the 60 percent mandate of yes votes to override a cap, because if it doesn’t pass the district only gets one more chance at getting a budget approved and then it must go to a 0 percent tax increase budget.

It’s likely your local union has been working to get the pulse of your community. Remember that union membership is a two-way street and now might be a great time to check with your union representative if there is something you can help with. The local might be considering a letter-writing campaign or a phone survey.

The budget vote is only six weeks away. The time to offer to help is now.

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