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State Journal: City belts and Long Island suits; Rollbackretribution

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With Gov. Mario M. Cuomo seeking to cut New York State school aid by $891 million, Long Island and the rest of the state are engaged in a heated rhetorical battle to defend their slices of a shrinking state education pie.

The latest exchange began last month when a coalition of Long Island educators released a report asserting that $464 million, or more than half of the Governor's planned cut in school aid, would be taken from their region under the current budget plan.

The report, commissioned by superintendents and education groups in Nassau and Suffolk counties, asserted that the reductions would result in an $803-million loss to the regional economy.

A day later, three Democratic senatorsfired back by releasing a report claiming that Nassau and Suffolk employ more school administrators earning above $70,000 per year than the rest of the state combined.

"It is as if we are tightening our belts in New York City, while they're buying new suits on Long Island," asserted Senator Joseph L. Galiber, who also accused the two counties of "apparent waste and mismanagement."

Long Island is a Republican stronghold, and regional rivalries have flared in recent years as the gop-majority Senate typically has sought to give more money to schools on the island than Governor Cuomo, a Democrat, has proposed.

Having failed to defeat a state property-tax-rollback referendum last fall, leaders of the Oregon Education Association are moving to exact a price on businesses that supported the proposal.

The union's board of directors voted recently to urge teachers not to do business with pro-rollback firms, which were named in a list to be sent out to members last month.

A union resolution said the list was intended "to let members of the business community know that we place the education of our children above the interests of businesses seeking tax reductions."

The plan drew criticism from many in the state, including Superintendent of Public Instruction Norma S. Paulus.

But oea officials defended the idea.

"It's not anything we haven't done before," said Karen Famous, the union's president. "It's just been blown out of proportion."

The list "is not any big subversive thing," Ms. Famous said last week, adding that the union also intends "to recognize those businesses" that were supportive of education funding.--ps & lsa

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