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“I am deeply disappointed that Governor Hochul vetoed legislation (S.1798/A.6972) which would have released the Panama Central School District from paying the remaining $1.9 million of an unfair New York State Education Department penalty levied 16 years ago. There is zero justification for diverting critically-needed education dollars away from the classroom to pay a bureaucratic fine from almost two decades ago.
“It is disappointing that our new governor has chosen to follow the same path as her predecessor, particularly since legislation that would have instituted blanket forgiveness was proposed as part of the budget process and rejected for political reasons. Therefore, there is no justification for vetoing this bill, which passed unanimously in both houses.
“The original $4.9 million fee, instituted because of an administrative error on the final cost report for a capital project, was an enormous financial blow to a small, struggling rural school district and its taxpayers. While assistance was secured over the years to help mitigate the negative impact, the remainder continues to be a burden on the district. This unresolved fine prevented a long-sought merger with the Clymer School District that would have been a great benefit to both students and taxpayers.
“No district should be put in this position, which is why I’ve supported legislation to forgive all state school districts who have been burdened with oppressive fines for building aid administrative reporting errors. It is incomprehensible as to why such a scheme was devised in the first place, but its elimination is long overdue. That is a goal that I will continue to fight for in the next session.”