NYSUT Chief: Stimulus Won’t Scale Back Lobbying

ALBANY—The federal stimulus package is structured in such a way to specifically provide money to plug state cuts to education, but the president of the state’s teachers union says lobbying efforts will continue.

“There was really no champagne—and won’t be before or until the state’s economy turns around, because that’s what’s going to be necessary to provide continued support for education and health care,” Dick Iannuzzi, president of New York State United Teachers, just told me by phone. “I’m not expecting a stimulus package every two years.”

He said there are no plans to pull or scale back the ad NYSUT has been running in opposition to David Paterson’s proposed cuts to education, and to push a tax increase on higher income earners. Iannuzzi said he would continue to push for the so-called “millionaire’s tax” because “to pull it back now means we face the same crisis going forward.”

Iannuzzi said that the union would still lobby for aid increases—some $1.8 billion—that were scheduled to be distributed before they were scaled back in Paterson’s executive budget. I asked if some might see that as greedy, given the economic times and budget pinch.

“Someone will call it greedy; someone else will call it stimulus,” Iannuzzi said. “I will call it stimulus. It’s about reinvesting, and education is the path to that reinvestment. The most foolish thing we could do is to create a highly efficient battery program, or do what we are doing with A.M.D. in the Capital District, and then have to go overseas to import engineers and technicians.”

NYSUT Chief: Stimulus Won’t Scale Back Lobbying