BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
Flanked by Queens elected officials, community groups, parents and students, state Senate candidate John Lui blamed incumbent state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) for playing a role in preventing equal public school funding from coming to the borough.
Liu was joined by Assemblymen Ron Kim (D-Flushing) and Daniel Rosenthal (D-Flushing), the Alliance for Quality Education and parents and students of PS 159 located in Bayside.
The Alliance for Quality Education Maria Bautista attacked Avella, who was formerly a member of the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) before it was dissolved earlier this year, blaming him for the loss of billions of dollars in aid.
“Tony Avella and the IDC chose to join the Republicans and failed to fully fund our public schools in their budget priorities,” Bautista said. “Our schools are owed billions of dollars as a result of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, but the IDC and the Republicans they’ve put in power won’t even take a vote to provide kids with quality education.”
Bautista is referring to the Campaign For Fiscal Equity lawsuit, which directed the state to provide equal funding to New York City. Since its implementation in 2007, education advocates have constantly argued that the court mandate is not being met.
In March 2017, members of the senate Democratic conference put forth a hostile amendment motion to try and force a vote on a proposal to phase in Foundation Aid, a program that supplements local funding for school districts to help provide resources for education for the next four years.
The procedure failed when Republicans and members of the IDC, an independent caucus of Democrats who would partner with Republicans at times, voted against the amendment.
“Our public schools have not achieved their full potential because they have been short-changed in the state budget,” said Lui, who is running against Avella. “We are owed over $60 million dollars in this senate district alone. As a graduate and parent of local schools here, I will not relent until we get every penny that is owed to our schoolchildren.”
Avella’s campaign spokesman, Jeff Frediani, said that the senator has contributed to public school funding over the past four years.
“Sen. Avella has delivered record-breaking increases in education funding directly to his district,” said Frediani. “Since 2014, he has allocated over $8 million in funds to local schools for educational programs and badly needed upgrades.”
Frediani said that in Avella’s 2018 budget, he allocated $50 million in new funding for community schools and $15 million increase in funding to expand half- and full-day pre-K, and expanded after-school programs by increasing funding for the Empire After School Program by $10 million and increased school aid by more than $1 billion.
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144, firstname.lastname@example.org or @reporter_ariel.