Goodbye, GEA

To the editor:

We have all been watching and listening to discussions on the Gap Elimination Adjustment. This was the brainstorm of the Paterson administration in an attempt to solve its budget problems. When Paterson took office following Elliott Spitzer’s resignation, he found himself looking at a $4.6 billion budget deficit. He recommended a $1.1 billion deficit reduction assessment to the total state school aid. Thus the birth of GEA.

Remember, this was supposed to be a “temporary” solution to a then-current problem. It’s strange, but when I look at the definition of temporary, it reads “lasting for a limited time.” As we’ve seen under our state Constitution, there is an obligation to provide, maintain and support a system of education. The state seems to find it convenient to disregard a monetary obligation. Perhaps back in 2009, the school districts could absorb the deductions in aid and still function while dipping into reserves, but definitely not today!

Our county legislatures, village and town officials, as well as the general public, are all asking that the state puts an end to this GEA. The sad point to remember is that with a cap on property taxes, the school budget adjustments are made by cutting programs, limiting services and eliminating teachers. When positions are terminated, there is a ripple effect that takes place. For every one person who is terminated, three others are directly affected. Perhaps some of these families will be forced to move and relocate by necessity. As new families think of moving into our community, what will they be looking for? Besides a job, and preferred way of life, they will be looking closely at our school system, and what we have to offer that others do not. Unfortunately, when you start trimming the education programs offered, it is the student that pays the ultimate price.

Please notify your state officials that it is time to do away the with GEA and restore funds to the school districts. Thank you.

Dennis C. Dwyer Sr.

Saranac Lake