A Champion for Public Education
In 2012, after being elected to the Assembly, Phil made education his first priority. In the last several budgets, Phil was very active, speaking out in the Assembly on education funding issues.
For example, in 2008, as a result of the financial crisis, the State had a budget gap between revenues and expenditures. It closed that gap by taking money away from schools, resulting in layoffs and higher local property taxes. Since being elected, Phil advocated for restoring that funding. The restoration process was completed this past year.
Phil has been one of the foremost advocates of Foundation Aid, which is designed to make sure all school districts throughout the State stand on a more equal footing with respect to education funding. In essence, the State makes up the difference for what local taxpayers cannot afford. Foundation Aid went from zero when Phil took office to, for example, providing $14 million to the City of Schenectady Schools in 2016. Phil stresses that all the school systems in the 110th Assembly District benefit from Foundation Aid.
Phil also worked hard to reform the Common Core.
“While there is nothing wrong with trying to help our children reach higher standards, so we can compete better in a global economy, that cannot be done through incessant and obsessive testing of children, which destroys a love of learning. That’s why I ultimately voted against Common Core.”
In addition, Phil opposes the Governor’s private school tax credit. This is a credit that does not go to help middle class New Yorkers who sacrifice to send their children to private or parochial schools. It is a tax credit for extremely wealthy donors who give money to foundations that support private or parochial schools. Because it is a tax credit, it could enable extremely wealthy individuals to avoid paying any taxes at all. This tax credit is unnecessary as donors of this kind already receive a tax deduction for those donations, just like every middle class person who gives money to their favorite charity.