Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman created quite a stir with his impolite hit on Governor Kathy Hochul at a recent Long Island Association breakfast.
When asked what the state can do to help Long Island, Blakeman’s coarse response was basically, “Stay out of our business and leave us alone.”
The executive’s comments were exceedingly shrill and could’ve been phrased in a better way. However, his underlying concerns are justified.
Despite the governor’s claim that she loves Long Island, and will always be there for us, she has engaged in a series of policy initiatives that have been quite adversarial to our region.
Her latest bomb dropped on the island was her unilateral decision to end the “hold harmless” concept on the distribution of state education aid. This has been a long-recognized policy wherein Long Island districts would at least know that they would not lose money in an upcoming budget.
This hard-fought provision won by the once-powerful Republican senate bloc from Long Island was eviscerated in one fell swoop by the Democratic governor.
Our editorial page has indeed pushed back against the thought that pouring more and more money into our schools will somehow improve performance. The evidence shows that it does not. We do believe that the incredible increases that were funneled into schools over the last several years were unnecessary and inflated our base beyond where it’s needed to be.
And we do understand that higher-need, lower-income districts do require more funding than the wealthier districts. But there was a comfort for schools and taxpayers that at least a district would not lose money in an upcoming year. Hochul’s plan turns that on its head.
It’s not surprising.
Governor Hochul has been kowtowing to her ultra-left New York City base for a long time. This is the same base that tried to overrule Long Island’s local zoning powers. The governor sought to raise the payroll tax on Long Island businesses to fund the New York City transit system, and she imposed a nasty congestion pricing tax on middle-class commuters from Long Island.
So, Blakeman is ultimately correct that Hochul does not seem to be too compassionate about Long Island’s needs.
Her latest budget just adds fuel to the fire.