Cutting the fat . . . and the meat, and the bone

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The cost of insurance and retirement benefits for school district employees now outpaces the growth of funding in New York state. This means that unless the tax cap is raised, or unless these benefits are exempted from the cap to a greater degree than they are now, every school in the state will eventually join the decline.

“All 700 school districts in the state are lined up facing a cliff,” Dr. Herbert Brown, superintendent of Oceanside schools said recently. “The question is not if they will fall off the cliff, but when.”

The savings the tax cap creates play well during elections. It sounds great when a politician tells you you’re going to have an extra $700 in the bank on tax day. But these are false savings. The costs of declining school districts are far larger. Homes values drop; more police are needed to deal with underserved youths; additional substance abuse and gang control programs are required; unemployment rises.

It’s a lot more expensive to solve problems than to prevent them. The tax cap looks good on paper, but it will cost all of New York dearly in the long run.

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