FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 30, 2009
MAYOR BLOOMBERG JOINS GOVERNOR PATERSON TO DISCUSS STATUS OF SCHOOL GOVERNANCE LEGISLATION IN ALBANY
The following is the text of Mayor Bloomberg’s Remarks as Delivered via Teleconference
“Today, as I think everybody in this state, and in fact in this country knows, today is a pivotal day for 1.1 million schoolchildren and for all New York City residents, and it’s a day that will tell us an awful lot about our State Senate. I’m holding out hope that the Senators will recognize and respect the importance of the June 30th deadline for renewing the school governance law, which is something that they have known about for seven years.
“And I’m hoping they will muster the courage to rise above partisanship and gridlock and do what’s right on both school governance and our sales tax. Without the sales tax bill, we will begin losing $60 million a month, and since the State collects sales tax by the month, we’re told that the way the State works, if this is not passed today but, for example, is passed tomorrow, we will not get the $60 million that we otherwise would have gotten for the month of July.
“Let me tell you what $60 million means to the City. It’s what it costs us to support 600 police officers or many of the engine and ladder companies in the fire department. Make no mistake about it, losing $60 million a month would potentially mean layoffs that would hurt families when they can least afford it and it would mean service cuts that every New Yorker needs.
“The consequences of failing to pass the school governance bill are even more unthinkable. The progress we made since the Legislature first voted to give us control of the school system seven years ago has been dramatic by any measure. Math and English scores are way up and graduation rates are at a historic high. But now, all the progress is threatened because of one thing: partisan politics. And that’s all this is. Two sides fighting over power instead of doing the people’s business.
“The fact is, there is broad, bi-partisan support for the school governance bill, but it’s being held hostage to partisan politics. All we want is all 62 Senators to come together and take a vote. A vote where they go on record of where they stand, continuing to improve our school system or going back to the old days where kids didn’t graduate and year in and year out, kids were moved from one grade to another, many without learning the skills that they need to become productive citizens.
“We need today to be a day of action and I would ask every New Yorker who cares about our schools to let their Senators know that coming home tonight without a vote on the school governance bill with all 62 senators in the room is just not acceptable, and will not be forgotten. I, this morning, called my state senator, and left a message on the voicemail, ‘We need you to vote to pass the school governance bill today,’ and I urge all New Yorkers to deliver the same message to their senators. Remind them. Remind them that when they were elected, they didn’t promise to do the people’s business only when their party was in power. They promised, if elected, to always do the people’s business. We need to hold them to that, and let them know that, come the next election, we’re going to be asking, ‘Did you stand up for our children at this critical moment? Did you lead? Did you take action? Did you realize that the cities and the counties in this State need to continue to provide the essential services that makes our state what it is?’
“Now, if the Senate refuses to act like a responsible body, then come tomorrow, sadly, the lawyers take over in New York City. Every decision – from personnel decisions to policy decisions – will be subject to litigation and uncertainty. That’s no way to run a school system, and will be like a nightmare flashback to the days when politics ruled the schools, and our children suffered the consequences. If this happens, let me assure everybody, we will work as hard as we can to shield the system from the chaos that the Senate is experiencing, and is planning to inflict on City school children.
“Make no mistake about it, we will not allow our schools to be padlocked, or summer school to be canceled. Summer school starts tomorrow, no if ands or buts. The kids that are going to summer school need help, and we are going to provide it. We’ll keep things running to the best of our ability, and deal with questions as they arise. That is our responsibility, but we are going into uncharted territory, and there’s no crystal ball. Our job will be to try to shield New York children and their parents from the chaos to the best of our ability, and continue to press the Senate for action. Governor, keep up the fight. We’re with you.”
Stu Loeser/Dawn Walker (212) 788-2958