While Legislators are doing a lot of talking about passing the now month-late State Budget, earlier today, parents, teachers, students and taxpayers joined the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE) at the Capitol to deliver over 6,600 handwritten letters to Senators demanding a temporary tax on Wall Street to prevent $1.4 billion in proposed cuts to education funding.

A few weeks back, AQE launched a campaign going door-to-door in communities across the State to speak with voters about the proposed cuts. Six out of every 10 people we talked to actually sat down and wrote out a letter to their Senator in opposition to the cuts.

The Governor’s Budget Proposal included $1.4 billion in education cuts. The State Senate passed a Budget Resolution that didn’t restore a dime of that funding. The State Assembly then passed their Budget Proposal, which dropped the damage down to only $800 million.

Worst case scenario (i.e., if $1.4 billion is cut from the education budget): 15,000 teaching position will be eliminated. After-school programs will be eliminated. English as a second language (ESL) classes will be eliminated. Class sizes will balloon.

And, on top of all that, your property taxes will go up. By a lot.

The past two years haven’t been easy on New Yorkers. Ordinary folks across this State have made one sacrifice after another. The tanking of the economy – largely due to Wall Street’s greed and incompetence – has resulted in an increased (and consistently high) unemployment rate.

There’s no two ways about it – cuts to eduction will permanently hurt our children, and will make it harder for New York’s economy to rebound.

But, there’s an alternative. A temporary two-year banker’s bonus tax on compensation over $250,000 would bring in almost $7 billion back to the State, allowing for easy restoration of the proposed cuts to education.

After a press conference where some of the letters’ authors read their messages aloud, the group delivered the wagons to Senators Darrel Aubertine, John Bonacic, Brian Foley, Kemp Hannon, Craig Johnson, Owen Johnson, Jeffrey Klein, Kenneth LaValle, Frank Padavan, William Stachowski, and David Valeski.

Here’s some quotes from the letters:

We need you to do this for children like my grandchildren who will have a bleak future if you allow our district to suffer cuts of over $6million. My newest granddaughter Kacey is only 13 months old and I worry about what will be left of our schools by the time she is in the district if these cuts happen.
Amparo Sadler, a Central Islip grand-parent, from her letter addressed to Senator Brian Foley

As a student in your district I think cutting the budget that will result in teachers getting laid off will be bad because less teachers will produce less students being taught. Wall Street is the same as you and I and they should pay their fair share to rebuild this economy.
Jacob Merrill, a 9th grader at Oswego High School, from his letter addressed to Senator Darrel Aubertine

If we do not ask Wall Street to help stop the pending school budget cuts our children will be deprived of the necessary requirements needed to succeed and they will fall further behind. In order to keep our children competitive in the 21st century job market, we need Senator Valesky and his colleagues to prioritize their education.
Gerald R. Lotierzo, a resident of the 49th Senate District, from his letter addressed to Senator David Valesky

As press clips come in from today’s event, I’ll post them below.

WNYT NBC 13 – Senators Receive Some Handy Advice