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Gov. Paterson’s Budget Cut Plans Will Drain Millions From County Schools

Gov. David Paterson proposed a plan to cut the current year budget by $3 billion, with an additional $2 billion in savings for next year's budget.
Gov. David Paterson proposed a plan to cut the current year budget by $3 billion, with an additional $2 billion in savings for next year's budget.

Oswego County’s 9 school districts will lose more than $5 million they had planned on under the deficit reduction proposals offered by Governor David Paterson Thursday.

County school districts were scheduled to receive more than $220 million to operate their schools for the 2009-2010 year. If the Legislature adopts Paterson’s proposals, they will instead receive $214.5 million.

(You can see the full package of cuts by school district here.  Go to page 49 for Oswego County school districts.)

<p>Page 1 of 2, showing state aid for local school districts before and after Gov. Paterson's proposed cutbacks.</p>
Page 1 of 2, showing state aid for local school districts before and after Gov. Paterson's proposed cutbacks.

With their budgets and tax rates already locked in by law for the rest of the school year, the only option left for most schools will be to cut services and fire teachers and staff in the middle of the school year. Because the cuts are planned to come during the school year, they would be more severe than if they had been part of the original plan for the year.

A sharp cut in aid to schools is part of Paterson’s package designed to eliminate a deficit of more than $3 billion in the current budget.

<p>Page 2 of 2, showing state aid for local school districts before and after Gov. Paterson's proposed cutbacks.</p>
Page 2 of 2, showing state aid for local school districts before and after Gov. Paterson's proposed cutbacks.

Paterson said the mid-year cuts would be very painful, a sacrifice made by every person in the state that had to be made.

“Not on my watch will I allow this state to go into default,” Paterson said during an afternoon news conference. “Not on my watch will I let us fritter around and make reckless decisions at a time when the citizens of this state need leadership, leadership that looks at the big picture despite the distractions of politics and special interests.”

Reaction was, well, exactly what you’d expect. Majority Democrats said they’d hold hearings across the state to gauge the impact. Minority Republicans said the majority Democrats were holding hearings instead of doing something about the deficit. A conservative think tank applauded the Governor’s proposal but said it may be a day late and a billion dollars short. And unions representing state workers vowed to fight the cuts with everything they’ve got.

Paterson plans to call lawmakers back for a special session to consider budget cuts on October 27.