YONKERS, NY – April 13, 2015 — Members of the Yonkers state delegation — Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senator George Latimer, Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow, and Assemblymember Shelley Mayer — responded to the partisan attack by the Yonkers Republican City Council members over the 2015-16 New York State Budget. Citing the Republicans’ utter failure to stand up for Yonkers and the ugly and unwarranted tone of their attack, the members of the state delegation asserted that the Yonkers Republican City Council members have once again placed partisan politics ahead of the people of Yonkers.
“Yonkers continues to be poorly served by Republican Council members who sat on the sidelines during the recent State budget battles. Never once did I hear from them about the budget. Now they show energy and drive when it comes time to attack Democrats”, said Senator George Latimer. “I work closely with Republicans and Democrats in 14 other municipalities in Westchester in a cooperative fashion; only with the Republican City Council members in Yonkers does the theater of politics come first. It’s always politics above people”.
The four members of the State delegation blasted back after a release appeared on the City Council Majority’s website laying blame for Yonkers’ shortfall on State Democrats, and avoiding any mention of the GOP Senate’s unwillingness to lift a finger for Yonkers, New York State’s fourth-largest city. In addition, the release completely ignored the fact the shortfall is directly attributable to a 2014-15 $55 million “accounting error” by the Yonkers Public Schools.
Assemblyman Pretlow explained, “The Assembly Democrats fought to secure the Yonkers Public Schools as much funding as possible. It is completely disingenuous of the Yonkers Republican City Council members to suggest we did otherwise. Their shill partisan attacks do not serve the city or its residents.”
Assemblymember Mayer added “It was our delegation, both Senators and Assemblymembers, that helped deliver $19 million more in state school aid (an increase of 8.9% over last year and the greatest percentage of the big five cities) with over 50% of the Gap Elimination Adjustment restored as well as increased Foundation Aid. In addition, the Assembly Democrats added $20 million in capital funding and $2 million in bullet aid for the Yonkers Public Schools. Further, two of our schools, Roosevelt and Cross Hill Academy will be eligible for additional funding based on a $75 million add for struggling schools,” noted Assemblymember Mayer. In addition, she noted “I utterly reject the unjustified and ugly tone of the Republican’s release and know that the Yonkers community expects better from its elected officials”.
Both Senators voted no on the Education budget Article VII language, citing numerous failures to support Yonkers in the budget’s final form. “I think the people of Yonkers see through this annual charade,” added Senator Latimer. “Since re-taking control of the Council, the GOP has done nothing to increase Yonkers’ leverage in Albany, rather they have sought to advance the Republican control in the Senate. Last year, my legislation that would have added over $1 million to City revenue, via a hotel occupancy levy, already in place in White Plains, New Rochelle and other communities, was killed by Republican Senate leadership. The outspoken rhetoric of the Council Majority now proves beyond a doubt that this is not about aid for Yonkers schoolchildren; it is aid for the Republican interests in Albany. Only when they drop their partisan rhetoric will we effectively move forward.”