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Could panic over education cuts cost Dems the state senate?

The state senate chambers
The state senate chambers
Joe Mahoney/iNews

Pledging not to allow any mid-year budget cuts to education has won the Republican leader of the state senate help from the state teachers union, NYSUT. The union is likely to vote tomorrow to endorse 31 Republican senators who are up for reelection Nov. 4, reversing its neutrality on the races. The Buffalo News first reported the likely change.

The interesting education angle here is how much NYSUT apparently fears budget cuts: Financial panic is becoming panic on the schools front, too. In a phone call, NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi just told me that he is open to education cuts in next year’s budget, but he said that schools cannot withstand mid-year cuts. Iannuzzi said he fears mid-year cuts would force teacher layoffs and “chaos” for students. He said the situation would be especially bad in New York City, where Mayor Bloomberg has asked for a 2.5% mid-year cut across the board.

“If you put midyear cuts at the state level on top of midyear cuts at the city level, the city school system would just be crushed,” Ianuzzi told me.

Ianuzzi said he could only recall two cases of mid-year budget cuts at the state level since the 1970s. One was in the 1990-91 school year, when Governor Cuomo proposed $1 billion in mid-year cuts, which became $190 million after legislative intervention. The other was May 2003, when the legislature cut $1 million from education after a recommendation by Governor Pataki.

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