My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Kolk, told us time and again, “People usually believe what they are told.” She also told us, “If you repeat the same lie over and over again you may even believe it yourself.” I bring this up because I keep hearing the NYS Senate Republican Conference repeat over and over how good they are for Long Island. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos and Newsday recently put out eye opening reports highlighting how Long Island gets minimal funding for Universal Pre-K. Maragos’ report found that districts in Nassau County are shortchanged $77 million in state money for pre-kindergarten for 4-year-olds while NYC’s program is fully funded. According to Newsday, this school year “there were 68,500 students enrolled… across the five boroughs… essentially guaranteeing a spot for every 4-year-old that applied.” With less than a third of Long Island’s eligible students enrolled in Universal Pre-K, Long Islanders are literally paying for NYC’s Universal Pre-K. Aren’t our children just as important, and deserving of the same opportunities?
The glaring difference in how much Long Island gets shortchanged is highlighted in a February 3, 2015 article by Newsday writer James T. Madore about a Long Island Association study. Madore states, “In NYS, the Island sent $15 billion to Albany and received only $10.4 billion in return in 2013, producing a deficit of $4.7 billion. In 2003 the deficit was $2.9 billion.” This clearly illustrates the growing disparity between what Long Islanders pay in taxes and what they receive from Albany in services. Long Island’s nine NYS Senators (all of which are Republican) are doing nothing to arrest this trend. Yet these nine keep repeating how a Democratic State Senator would be bad for Long Island. Numbers don’t lie. Long Islanders are not being well represented in the NYS Senate.
Long Island recently received $550 million in the 2015 NYS budget for economic development projects. Former NYS Senate Leader Dean Skelos was quoted as saying, “The budget was regionally balanced and we’ve been able to secure critical funding for Long Island,” thus creating the perception of a big win for our region. The reality is Long Island business officials were pushing for $1 billion, to get the same funding that Buffalo previously received. Infrastructure here is crumbling and much more than $550 million was needed. Again, Long Island pays proportionately more than any other region, yet continues to receive smaller and smaller pieces of the pie.
Though Long Island is a diverse region with great disparity in wealth, when adjusted for regional cost factors, it isn’t much better off than other parts of the state. There will always be a statewide imbalance. The problem is the imbalance keeps growing and the perception that our NYS Senate elected officials are meeting our needs on Long Island isn’t the reality.
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