NYS Tax Cap and Public Schools

New York State presently limits the amount a local government (County, City, Town, Village, Special District, Public School, and Public Library)  can raise the Tax Levy between two budgets. The limit is known as  the “2 Percent Tax Cap.” If the taxing entity proposes a budget that is more than their Tax Cap, it can only pass if it is approved by a 60 per cent ‘“Super Majority” approval rate.

In governments where an elected board approves the budget (Counties, Cities, Towns, and Villages) the Super Majority applies to the Board Members. On the seven member Penn Yan Village Board, we need to have five members approving a budget that is over the Tax Cap. On a five member Town Board you will need three affirmative votes. The 14 member Yates County Legislature needs to have nine affirmative votes.

School districts and Public Libraries have their budgets approved in a public vote. They need to have 60 percent affirmative votes of those who vote to have the budget approved.

school4cLast Tuesday, May 19, Public Schools over New York State held their budget referendums. Eighteen schools districts presented budgets that exceeded their tax cap.   Two were nearby school districts, Geneva and Dundee, were ones that proposed school budgets that needed a Super Majority to pass. Dundee’s budget succeeded (161-100); Geneva’s budget failed by 24 votes (676-490).

Looking at the facts tells us a lot about the Tax Cap law. Although commonly known as “2 percent Tax Cap”, it is seldom two percent. There is a complicated formula to determine each district’s Tax Cap.  Geneva’s proposed Tax Levy was a 1.95 percent increase. Their actual Tax Cap was 0.34 percent! Dundee’s proposed Tax Levy was a 3.9 percent increase. It’s actual Tax Cap, according the the State’s formula, was a NEGATIVE 4.3 percent! (Yes, you read it right.) Dundee’s  voters approved a budget that exceeded their Tax Levy by 8.2 percent!

There were 18 school districts whose budgets were over their Tax Cap, and 11 districts were successful in having their voters approved a budget override it. The unsuccessful seven districts were Chazy and Northeastern Clinton in Clinton County, Parishville-Hopkinton in St. Lawrence County,  Herkimer (Herkimer County in the Mohawk Valley)  Patchogue-Medford (Long Island) and NY 23rd’s Geneva and Tioga Central Schools.  Two school districts that needed a simple majority had failing budgets—Walton (Delaware) and NY 23rd’s Addison (Steuben).

Almost 99 percent of the 658 school districts passed their under the tax cap budgets. What did those schools have to do to stay under their cap? Did they cut staff? Did they move funds from reserve accounts? Did they delay replacing or upgrading equipment? Did they eliminate programs and/or extra-curricular activities? Priorities have to be made.

The Tax Cap Law expires next year, but the State Legislature may decide to extend it or have it die by the end of their legislative session on June 15. The Republican controlled State Senate passed a bill to indefinitely extend the bill as it now stands on Tuesday, 47-13. The Democrat controlled Assembly representatives are discussing changing it a bit as well as offering a bill that would reduce state-mandate spending.

There are those who are very supportive of extending the Tax Cap, who estimate that  the Property Tax has saved New Yorkers $7.6 billion. On the other the New York State School Board Association pointed out:

“School boards already have a de facto “tax cap” in place every time their spending plans go up for a public vote. School boards and their leadership teams across the state have worked hard to balance taxpayer support with student need. Even before enactment of the tax cap in 2011, school district increased spending just 0.8 percent in 2011-12, 1.1 percent in 2010-11, and 2.3 percent in 2009-10. Those are very responsible numbers.

School decision-makers know the economic climate in their communities and put forth budgets that reflect that climate, along with the needs and wants of their communities. In fact, school boards have attempted fewer and fewer tax cap overrides that require a 60 percent supermajority for passage. In 2012, there were 51 attempts, followed by 31 in 2013 and 29 last year.”

Has the Tax cap really made a financial deference? It looked like schools were acting on their own to respond to their district’s financial needs.

There are school officials who point out that the Tax Cap has limited funds at a same time New York State initiated the  Gap Elimination Adjustment which reduced State Aid, and Common Core. Trying to master a new teaching system and standards while trying to provide our children with the best educational experience possible with less funding is a recipe for frustration. Some wonder if  these changes are a way to promote Charter Schools

Remember  all local governments are covered by the Tax Cap law. The public doesn’t vote directly on their budgets. They are approved by the Board Members who create the budgets. Has anyone ever heard of a County or City or Town or Village Government Budget not pass? I found no figures on how many Board approved local governments budgets were over the Tax Cap.

We would like to hear your comments on New York State’s Tax Cap. Should the present one be extended the way it is now? Should out be modified, if so how? Should it be eliminated all together? How has it affected your School District.

Posted in Constituents, Economics, Education, NYS Government | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Standardized Testing

half-truth

Tom Reed claims the EMPOWER (Enable More Parents to Opt-Out Without Endangering Resources) Act would allow parents to opt-out of annual standardized testing required for their children by No Child Left Behind, such as the assessments aligned with Common Core.

Our school districts should not be punished because parents exercise this choice,” said Reed. “Tens of thousands of parents have already opted their children out of required public school testing and students and teachers alike have felt the financial sting for non-compliance. It simply isn’t fair to take away the resources they need or shift the financial burden to local property tax payers. —Rep Tom Reed

It isn’t fair to deny funding to school districts that fail to show that they meet standards? Really, that is a surprising view for a Republican. Many Republicans, including Tom, are often big fans of accountability and punitive measures.

Parents need to be empowered to make the educational decisions that suit their children the best. Testing can be a valuable diagnostic tool for identifying problems and determining how best to help children succeed. But making high-stakes tests rather than learning the centerpiece of the education system, and the one and only indicator of success or failure, is problematic.– Rep. DeLauro

DeLauro and Reed are blowing smoke. DeLauro claims “… making high-stakes tests rather than learning the centerpiece of the education system, and the one and only indicator of success or failure, is problematic.” That’s tilting at windmills–no responsible educator would make tests a centerpiece or the only indicator of success.

http://reed.house.gov/press-release/reed-delauro-testing-%E2%80%9Copt-out%E2%80%9D-proposal-will-empower-parents-help-students-and-protect

Posted in Congress, Education, Political, Reed's Views | Tagged | 3 Comments

How easily we are fooled

deliberately_misleading_bumper_stickers-rc7be4eb62d0b42fa8ba5809206507001_v9wht_8byvr_512We cannot compromise the fundamental, constitutionally guaranteed liberties of the American people in the name of national security. After carefully considering this legislation, I believe that this is the starting place to address the injustices that have been levied against the American people, and provides some restoration to the delicate balance between national security and individual privacy rights.–Rep. Tom Reed

We voters are easily taken in by deceptive politicians. Here are examples.

Rep. Tom Reed on the USA Freedom Act of 2015:

The legislation ends the National Security Agency’s (NSA) bulk phone record collection under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act. This prevents the federal government from collecting large-scale, indiscriminate, information about ordinary Americans through their phone records.

Rep. Amash, the original author of the act, writes:

On May 13, 2015, the USA FREEDOM Act of 2015 (H.R. 2048) passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 338 to 88. We, the undersigned representatives, opposed the measure because its reforms do not adequately or appropriately reform surveillance practices or address privacy concerns.

Why does Rep. Reed ignore his fellow Republican’s concerns which are echoed by GOP Presidential candidate Rand Paul? It seems he seeks to fool us.

On the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act, Rep. Reed writes:

Like our Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act, this bill will stimulate economic growth, leading to the creation of new industries and hi-tech manufacturing jobs.

The Obama Administration writes:

The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 1806, the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015, which would undermine critical investments in science, technology, and research. The Administration believes that H.R. 1806 would be damaging to the Administration’s actions to move American competitiveness, innovation, and job growth forward through a world-leading science, technology, and innovation enterprise.

Why does Rep. Reed ignore the Obama Administrations view? It seems he seeks to fool us.

On Social Security, specifically Social Security Disability Insurance, Tom professes great concern for the disabled, yet he rushed to forestall needed funding. Evidently he expects we can be easily fooled by what he says, ignorant of his actions.

On TPP and Fast Track, Tom Reed, taking the GOP misleaders view, tells us that TPP is all good. Readers of New NY 23rd will know that this is a misleading view.

Why are we treated as patsies?

http://reed.house.gov/press-release/reed-protects-individual-liberties-and-fosters-national-security-usa-freedom-act

https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/legislative/sap/114/saphr1806r_20150518.pdf

http://reed.house.gov/press-release/reed-votes-protect-and-create-american-jobs

Posted in Congress, Constituents, Political, Reed's Views, Seniors, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Saving Social Security

SocSecCardsI have many good friends who are retired and many good friends who receive Social Security disability benefits. I am concerned that my good friends might lose their benefits because Social Security is nearly broke, flat, busted, bankrupt. That is unacceptable. I want to lead on this issue by highlighting the problem. We need to confront this issue now; any alternative would be kicking the can down the road. 

I don’t know how to solve this problem, maybe my good friends would make a suggestion. I do know what won’t work.

  • The administration’s plan to transfer money from one program to another. That would be robbing Peter to pay Paul, or maybe robbing David to pay someone whose number isn’t in my cell phone.
  • Raising taxes–that wouldn’t be fair to my good friends who aren’t retired or disabled. My other friends wouldn’t want that.

Some say we should raise the tax cap on Social Security taxes. But if we raise the taxes on my wealthy friends income, we would have to increase their benefits as well, so that won’t work; nice try though.

Many of my disabled friends tell me they would prefer to work rather than be takers. I know that there are jobs to be had if only people would look for them. All except the catastrophically disabled ought to be able to find some job somewhere in the country. Good luck to you, my friends.

 

Posted in Congress, Humor, Political, Reed's Views, Seniors | Tagged , | 10 Comments

Did you get your postcard yet?

On May 12, Tom Reed wrote on his facebook page:

The postcards to notify constituents of my next town hall meeting are ready to be mailed out. This meeting will take place two weeks from today, on Tuesday, May 26.

Did you get yours yet?

 

Posted in Congress, Political | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Rep. Capuano (D-MA) on Trade

2015.03.10-FAST-TRACK-PROTEST-630x472

Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA) writes about trade.

Congress is expected to soon consider several trade agreements and I wanted to take some time this week to share my general thoughts on these upcoming votes. Trade agreements between the United States and other counties, or a group of countries, are negotiated by the President and Executive Branch officials. Like all treaties with foreign nations and the laws that implement them, these agreements are subject to Congressional approval. Historically, Congress has had the authority to agree, reject, or amend any proposed trade agreements submitted for ratification. If Congress amended the agreements, the President was then required to re-negotiate them in order to incorporate the changes.

In the recent past, however, Presidents have requested Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), more commonly known as “Fast Track”. TPA significantly limits the voice of the legislative branch. A vote on granting the President TPA is expected soon in the House. TPA limits Congressional action on a trade agreement to a simple up or down vote. By approving TPA, Congress agrees to give up its right to amend the agreement, and we are being asked to do so before any agreement is even finalized.

Trade Promotion Authority, or Fast Track, was first approved for deals negotiated between 1975 and 1980. It was extended from 1981 to 1988; and then again for trade agreements between 1989 and 1994. Fast Track was later re-adopted for deals negotiated between 2002 and 2011.

Once again, Congress is expected to consider TPA or Fast Track. I think it is unwise for any Member of Congress to surrender our constitutional responsibilities without knowing exactly why this step is necessary and what specifically Congress is agreeing to. I voted against Fast Track Authorization in 2002 and I fully expect to vote no again this year.

The reason TPA is being considered is because the Obama Administration is currently negotiating two trade deals. Details are very limited but here is a brief overview of them:

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)–This is a trade agreement being negotiated between the United States and Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. It is notable that China, Taiwan and South Korea are NOT part of this agreement. The agreement is not yet finalized.

The President has declared the draft agreement CLASSIFIED. This means that Members of Congress, unaccompanied by staff, are allowed to read it under very specific conditions. It must be reviewed only in a secure location and we cannot make a copy. If we take notes, they must be surrendered before leaving the secure location. The draft agreement cannot be discussed with anyone for any reason, with the exception of other Members of Congress.

In my early professional life, I was a tax lawyer and considered myself a tax law expert. Even then, I always tried to discuss tax issues with other professionals. I thought these discussions were important for many reasons. I wanted to hear the perspective of others and make sure I wasn’t missing some aspect of an issue. This process always helped me to more fully understand the issue at hand.

I am not a trade expert. In order to learn as much as I can about these issues, it’s important for me to discuss them with as many knowledgeable individuals as possible: business and labor leaders, human rights and environmental activists, economists and historians, as wide a variety of practitioners as possible. To render this sort of research illegal because all of the details are classified makes no sense to me. I am instead forced to discuss the deals in broad strokes and generalities and, remember, the deal isn’t even finalized yet so no one can really speak with authority about what it will ultimately look like.

Given these circumstances, it is highly unlikely I will get to a point where I feel my understanding of the complicated issues involved in TPP is adequate to cast a responsible vote on the treaty. When I am unsure about any issue, I walk a careful path and tend to listen much more closely to people I usually agree with, people who see the world as I do and share my principles. Therefore, since I am legally prohibited from discussing any details of the TPP now available to Members of Congress, AND because the agreement is not yet in final form, I will likely vote NO on TPP. If the Administration makes the full text of the deal public and it seems reasonable to me and to others whose judgment I respect, I may reconsider. At this writing, however, no such document is available.

The second trade deal expected to be considered under TPA or Fast Track Authority is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). This trade agreement is being negotiated between the United States and the 28-member European Union. All of the restrictions in place for TPP are in place for TTIP. That agreement is not finalized yet either. But unlike with TPP, there is no draft or outline of TTIP available to Members of Congress. Once a draft is ready for review, it will probably be classified and subject to the same restrictive rules as TPP.

Our Constitution gives Congress serious foreign policy responsibilities, including the ratification of treaties. I have long been troubled by the unwillingness of administrations, both Republican and Democratic, to recognize this constitutional requirement and the wisdom of involving Congress in foreign policy.

For more information, Rep. Capuano recommends this CRS report:

https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R43491.pdf

Here Tom Reed expresses his views:

http://reed.house.gov/press-release/reed-votes-protect-and-create-american-jobs

Posted in Congress, Economics, Political, Reed's Views | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Rep. Reed Pats Himself On The Back as Yates County Remembers the Flood.

This week marks the anniversary of the flood in Yates County. Most houses and businesses that were affected by the waters have been repaired.  The Village is still working with PY Flood Parking LotFEMA on municipal losses;  everything is not back to the standards of pre-flood days. People have lost jobs and some have lost their housing. Federal cuts in SNAP funding have not helped the situation in Yates County. The local food bank is helping more residents. The local Red Cross left Yates County because of the sequester just before the flood, and its local volunteer substitute organization has been very busy since the flood.

Our Congressman has released the following statement on his Facebook page, and I have re-posted an article I wrote last June, titled, “Rep. Reed tries to use Yates County flood for political gain” in response to Rep. Reed’s claim.

Today we celebrate the strength and resilience of the Penn Yan community, which came together to rebuild after severe floods devastated the area last May.

I visited Penn Yan the day after the storm and saw firsthand the heavy damage sustained by local homes and businesses. We immediately went to work with the USDA to request that Yates County be declared a disaster area. As a direct result of our efforts, Yates County farmers received nearly $284,000 in disaster relief through the USDA’s Emergency Conservation Program.

I am sure he did help the Yates County farmers. Rep. Reed has a good group of constituents service experts, and I have personally told him that. They are doing their jobs.

Rep. Reed does not let an opportunity pas to get his name in the press, even though he has done very little to deserve it:

Rep. Reed tries to uses Yates County flood for political gain

Before  a Penn Yan Village Board Meeting on Thursday, June 12, Mayor Leigh MacKerchar reported that he had just gotten off the phone with a reporter from the Finger Lakes Times who asking him for his reaction that the FEMA threshold (amount  of flood damage required before the Federal Government can send aid to an area)  had been met. The Mayor was said, “I have not been notified of that yet.” The reporter replied that information was in a press release from Rep. Tom Reed.

This is showing us that when Rep. Reed gets important information, the first thing he does is to go to the Press instead of contacting  the municipalities involved. Yates County administrator Sarah Purdy responded to the news with, “If in fact the threshold has been met, on the one hand I’m sorry that there’s been so much damage, but, on the other hand, it will relieve us dramatically from the fiscal stress of having to deal with this.” Like most leaders, she is waiting for official conformation of the information before proceeding.

(BTW, Mayor Mackerchar received the official notification of reaching the FEMA threshold on Monday, June 16 at 4:38)

Reed also reported that information as his top story in his weekly update. He said, “We’ve been encouraging the Governor’s office to seek assistance. We are following through to make sure our communities get the help they need.”

I don’t think our Governor needs to be encouraged. He has flown over the site in an helicopter and placed Lt. Governor Duffy in charge of the state’s involvement since Day  1. Duffy has been in constant contact with the County’s Emergency Management Director and has been seen in the Village talking to business and home owners. Less than ten days after the flooding even the  Lt. Governor announced the State’s Disaster Recovery Assistant Program  where home owners can get reimbursement up to $10,000 (businesses up to $25,000) for house damage and certain basic equipment (furnace, hot water heater, etc.). My niece and her husband own the Penn Yan Diner, and they received their funding in about a week after submitting the invoices and estimates. Rep. Reed doesn’t have to ‘encourage’ Governor Cuomo.

President Obama needs to declare the County (and parts of neighboring counties) as a disaster area before we can receive help from FEMA. Rep. Reed, as our representative, will probably be involved with announcing that information, too. In reality his Constituents Service Experts (those at his local offices) will be doing the leg and paper work.

Has Rep. Reed changed his stand of FEMA?

In 2o11, right after Hurricane Irene, and a series of tornadoes in the mid-west, and wildfires in the west,  FEMA’s resources were drained. Then Tropical Storm Lee flooded the Southern Tier. At that point the Republican leaders wanted to cut FEMA funding by 55%. Ron Paul said that FEMA should be destroyed.  There was talk of Shutting Down The Government. Rep. Reed voted NOT TO EXTEND FEMA funding to help the Southern Tier. An article in the  Salamanca Press recorded Nate Shinagawa’s reaction to the Tropical Storm Lee event:

OLEAN – … At the time, Shinagawa, a Tompkins County legislator and Ithaca hospital administrator, was incident commander at Guthrie Hospital, with 238 patients, including a nursing home, hundreds of employees and more people who had been forced from their homes by floodwaters, seeking medical attention.

“After the flood, my own employees didn’t have a home,” the Democrat told The Olean Times Herald editorial board in a recent meeting. “There were 10,000 homes that were damaged or destroyed in the (Southern Tier). I was expecting more help from the federal government, especially FEMA, to help out these communities.

“Rep. Reed at that time was one of many members of Congress that wanted to see offsets somewhere else in the federal government before they would vote for increases in spending for the federal government,” Shinagawa said. ”Theoretically, it sounds nice. But when it came to FEMA funding, it was a disastrous mistake. What happened was that he voted against extending those FEMA funds at that time.

“The community was really shocked by it. I was shocked by it. This is his own back yard. These are the people he represents.”

That experience was the catalyst that propelled Shinagawa to run for Congress. He bested two Democratic opponents in the Democratic primary and also has the Working Families Party line.

“That was a real moment for me,” he said. “That was when I realized that I wanted to challenge Congressman Tom Reed.”

In 2014, Rep. Reed  said that that he wants to “make sure our communities get the help they need.” That is a far cry from 2011 when he voted not to extend FEMA funding. Some may call it his right to change his mind. Others call it Political Maneuvering. You can’t have it both ways. The constituents know that actions speak louder  than words.

Posted in 2016, Constituents, Economics, Ethics, Media, Reed's Views, Sequester/Fiscal Cliff | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments