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Council splits on supporting Yonkers school children

Post Date:01/27/2016 3:59 PM
YONKERS, NY - The Yonkers City Council today passed two resolutions urging Albany lawmakers to support Yonkers school children, with the Council's Majority voting in the affirmative. The resolutions call for the end of the Gap Elimination Adjustment, or GEA, and passage of an education tax credit.
 
Yonkers City Council President Liam McLaughlin said, "The GEA has already taken $110 million of our school funding back. This City Council is the first municipality to successfully join a case to overturn the GEA, and we have taken further action tonight by urging Albany to end it once and for all. Why anyone would be against ending the Gap Elimination Adjustment is a mystery to me."
 
The resolutions note that Albany lawmakers can support Yonkers school children by the passage of two pieces of legislation. The first, Senate Bill S6377, passed the State Senate 53 to 9 and was delivered to the State Assembly.
 
After passing the Senate, the bill was referred to the Assembly Education Committee, where the Assembly could take action and put it on the Assembly Calendar if it so chooses. The resolution passed by the City Council on Tuesday urges the Assembly and the Governor to support Yonkers school children and enact the Senate bill.
 
Council member Dennis Shepherd said, "The GEA was implemented when one party controlled Albany back in 2010 as a means of closing the $10 billion budget deficit that party had created. Members of that same party tonight voted to continue stealing money from our kids when the Minority voted to oppose the end of the Gap Elimination Adjustment."
 
The second resolution also urged Albany lawmakers to support Yonkers school children and adopt Senate Bill S1976-A, which passed the State Senate as well, where it was supported by State Senators Andrea Stewart-Cousins and George Latimer, who is a cosponsor.
 
Majority Leader John Larkin said, "The State Senate has already passed this important legislation. It is time for the State Assembly and the Governor to act. This bill will provide over $70 million in new funding for public schools, and tens of millions to support non-profit organizations like YPIE that serve children in public schools, as well as ten million to reimburse teachers who pay out of their own pockets to buy supplies for their classrooms."
 
The bill now sits in the Assembly Ways & Means Committee, where it died last year. Bills must pass both houses before they can be considered by the Governor.
 
The City Council's resolutions put pressure on the State Assembly to move the Senate versions of the bill forward for a vote. According to the state government publication 'How a Bill Becomes Law' under the rules of the State legislature, the Senate bills can now be voted on by the State Assembly. It reads:
 
"Passing a Bill"
                                              
"After explanation, discussion or debate, a vote is taken. If a majority of the Senators approves, the bill is sent to the Assembly. (emphasis added)
 
"In the Assembly, you again have a chance to influence the bill as it moves through a process basically the same as that in the Senate. It is referred to a committee for discussion, and if approved there, it goes to the full membership for a vote.
 
"If the bill is approved in the Assembly without amendment, it goes on to the Governor. However, if it is changed, it is returned to the Senate for concurrence in the amendments.
 
"(The reverse procedure is followed if the Assembly first passes a bill identical to a Senate measure or if the Senate amends an Assembly bill.)"
 
As the publication states, an Assembly version of a bill is not needed to pass a Senate bill in the Assembly, and vice-versa. Bills that are one-house in origin routinely pass both houses.
 
Council member Mike Breen, chairman of the City Council Education committee, said it was mind-boggling anyone could oppose the resolutions adopted by the City Council. "The Education Tax Credit supports all children," he said.
 
"This is money we don't have that can go a long way toward correcting the unfair school funding formula, which is even harsher on Yonkers kids when coupled with the Gap Elimination Adjustment," Breen said. "A vote against these resolutions was a vote against all our kids and a vote to keep the GEA, and that is what we saw tonight."
 
Both resolutions passed the City Council 4 to 3 and will be forwarded to Albany lawmakers, even though the education tax credit resolution passed the City Council 6 to 1 last year. This means the Council's Minority voted to oppose ending the Gap Elimination Adjustment and also opposes additional funding for Yonkers Public Schools and school children.
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