One gentleman was angry because many public high schools are closing while new ones are being built at the expense of the taxpayer, a trend he argued was being caused by the overpopulation of public high schools with the children of “illegal aliens.” He wanted to know Addabbo’s position on charter schools.
Addabbo diplomatically responded that the failing high schools are failing for many reasons aside from the influx of undocumented families and that the Department of Education is going through a rezoning process.
“They will use the 2010 census – that’s why the census is very important this year – to draw not only different electoral lines for elected officials but ultimately different school district lines,” said Addabbo. “We need to not only track who is in the district or in the area, but how many people.”
On the issue of charter schools, he said he would like to get some in his district because they offer parents an option in addition to public, private, and parochial schools, but there are drawbacks to charter schools as well.
“The statistics regarding charter schools, and they’re all good for the most part, are questionable because of the lack of transparency,” he said. “Any charter school in my district, for me, to be accepted, has to have transparency, so audits; audits on finances, audits on its testing procedures, courses taken and test scores.”
Addabbo also addressed claims by the The Daily News and The Post that the state increased spending by 10 percent last year. He said in actuality, at least seven percent of that money was stimulus money, which had to be used as directed by the federal government. The remaining two-plus percent was spent on projects that had already been contracted out and on increases in state salaries.
However, he agreed with his constituents that the state needs to to cut spending significantly, even downsize the government to make it leaner but more efficient if necessary.
He stunned everyone when he revealed that one of the first things Governor David Paterson did upon taking office was to increase the number of bodyguards from the Spitzer administration, though he said the Senate eventually forced Paterson to decrease his own government.
“We’re going to have to cut spending in our government. But by cutting spending, you understand, good programs will be reduced; some will go extinct. That’s what we’re going to be faced with during these fiscal times,” said Addabbo. “In the City Council, I dealt with two or three in a row, then during times of prosperity we got to restore the money. I’m hopeful that this is the last bad fiscal budget we deal with.”