A report today from the state School Boards Association estimates that school districts in New York would face a yearly $815 million shortfall over the next four years if they lived under Cuomo’s proposed 2 percent tax cap.
The report says the cap would limit property tax increases in school districts to $229 million a year over the four years, but the cost of salaries, health insurance and pensions are alone expected to rise by more than $1 billion a year.
“The long-term health of our state demands limitations on the growth of taxes and a sound educational system,” said NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy Kremer in a statement. “But a hard tax cap would clearly threaten the quality of public education by forcing drastic cuts in classroom teachers and academic programs.”
In the current 2010-11 school year, a property tax cap would have resulted in a $894 million budget gap – the equivalent of 13,446 teaching and administrative positions, the report states.
The group is offering a host of recommendations to lower the mandates on schools. Among them is a one-year freeze on the salaries of school and public employees. They also want public employees to contribute at least 10 percent toward the cost of health insurance and establish a new 401k-type pension tier.
They also want the state to reform the Triborough provision of the state’s labor laws, a long-complained about statute that prohibits public employers from changing expired labor agreements until a new one is reached.
Last week, county executives expressed concerns about the impact a property-tax cap would have on their budgets, saying that it needs to be coupled with mandate relief. The New York Conference of Mayors are also hitting the road this week to discuss their own study about the troubles with a property-tax cap.