OSWEGO, NY – Gov. David Paterson’s announcement Sunday that he will withhold $750 million in payments to school districts, local governments and social services agencies didn’t come as a big surprise to Oswego school officials.
“We have planned well and were aware that this could be a possibility,” said Bill Crist, Oswego Superintendent of Schools.
At this point, the district is going to be able to continue to do business despite the fact that the state will be delaying its aid payment, he said.
Paterson said these were not cuts; the state is going to hold the money longer, to make sure it has cash on hand to pay its bills.
“Our cash flow for this month is capable of sustaining our needs on a temporary basis. We will be able to manage this on the short-term,” Crist said. “Due to good planning on our part, we aren’t faced with any dire consequences at this time.”
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t say this enough: The state has run out of money,Ã¢â‚¬Â Paterson said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We are $1 billion short.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The governor blamed his actions on the state LegislatureÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s failure to make enough cuts to fill a $3.2 billion midyear budget deficit.
The Legislature enacted $2.8 billion in cuts, but did not cut into aid for school districts as Paterson had proposed.
There is a great concern over the uncertainty of whether the withholding of the aid is permanent, Crist noted.
“If that’s the case, then the school district will need to consider actual spending reductions other than just cash flow management actions,” the superintendent said.
The Oswego district hasn’t received official notice of how much aid will be withheld, he added Tuesday.
On Wednesday, a group of teachers, school officials and education advocates filed suit against Gov. Paterson in an attempt to prevent him from withholding aid to schools.