Education-related organizations across the state are suing Gov. David Paterson.
Groups such as the union New York State United Teachers and the New York State School Board Association filed suit this week to try to block the government from withholdings funds scheduled to be sent to every school district in the state.
Paterson last week announced that his office would hold back 10% of the payments scheduled to go to districts on December 15.Ã‚Â He said the state Legislature had not done its job by filling the entire $3.2 billion projected midyear budget deficit and that the state would be in danger of running out of money if it made all of the payments.
Paterson also withheld a portion of funds scheduled to go to local and county governments.
Oswego County’s nine school districts are having more than $1 million withheld.Ã‚Â Add the cities of Fulton and Oswego and Oswego County government and the total that was planned on, but which will not be received anytime soon is more than $2 million.
Gov. Paterson claims his actions are legal.Ã‚Â But the other side claims that the state and Governor previously approved these payments and that the Legislature specifically rejected school aid cuts in the package of cuts it made earlier this month.
“The governor may not agree with the LegislatureÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s spending priorities and may indeed have profound concerns about the results, but once he signed the state budget in April and approved the deficit reduction plan, he is constitutionally and legally bound to follow the law,” said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi in announcing the lawsuit. “The governor is overstepping his bounds. He clearly lacks any legislative, statutory or constitutional basis to withhold funds from school districts and, by doing so, he is harming children and their schools.”
Local districts have been bracing for some kind of cutbacks.Ã‚Â Hannibal Superintendent Mike DiFabio has said the district has carefully built back its reserve fund, knowing that hard times were coming, and may have to use that to offset the money being withheld.Ã‚Â Other districts with low reserves may have to borrow money to cover the shortfall or make midyear cuts in jobs.