Today on the Utica School District TV channel, Board President Ms. Klein was joined by the local heads of the teachers' union and the construction union to push for the Utica School District's $187 million capital program. Everyone is on board it seems, ready to cash in. Public money is being counted upon to pull contractors out of their slump. This is being pushed as "free money" because all the construction will be funded by state aid under various programs, and a full court press is going on to get you to pull the "yes" lever tomorrow.
Of course, no one tells the taxpayers what the completed project will mean in additional facilities to heat, light, staff and maintain ... One could have hoped that local leaders would have used the funds to make facilities that would cost the taxpayers less in the long run to operate . . . but since no one claims that the project will do this, you can be sure that this project will cause future operation and maintenance costs to go up. Think about that when you pull the lever.
Utica's scenario is being played out in school districts all across the state with proportionate dollar amounts to be spent elsewhere. In Utica, $187 million works out to be over $3200 for every man, woman and child in the city. Imagine these kinds of expenditures everywhere else in New York State. Big money! A bonanza that caters to big blocks of voters: Teachers unions, the construction lobby, and parents who have been duped into thinking that such spending will educate their children. It also rewards those school districts who have done a lousy job maintaining their facilities. (Does anyone remember the tennis ball in the roof drain that caused a roof to cave in at one Utica school years ago?) Thank you, Ex-Gov. Pataki for catering to the special interests and leaving the taxpayers with such a wonderful parting gift. This kind of spending will bankrupt the state.
Small wonder that the state is now in a fiscal crisis. We'll find out just how bad it is tomorrow night.
So vote as you please on the UCSD proposal . . . but if I were the governor, this outrageous spending on these school construction projects is the very first thing that I would cut.