The Examiner: State Funding Shortfall Hurts Local School Districts and Taxpayers

Westchester Democratic lawmakers gathered last Friday in Ossining to highlight a $78 million funding shortfall in foundation aid for several area school districts.

As the Ossining School District continues to remain one of the lowest funded districts in the state, Democratic leaders stood outside Roosevelt Elementary School urging residents to vote blue in the Nov. 6 election with the hope of fixing the foundation aid formula and reducing the property tax burden.

“Ossining is one of the poster children for the shortage of foundation aid,” 40th Senate District candidate Peter Harckham said. “That shortfall needs to be made up in property taxes.”

Under the current formula, Harckham cited at least 19 school districts in Westchester and Putnam counties that aren’t receiving enough foundation aid funding and are currently owed $78 million from the state.

Last year, Ossining received an 8%, or $884,167 increase, only getting 44% of its allocation of aid, while nearly 275 districts throughout the state received more than 100% to 2,000% of their allocation. The increase brought the districts 2018-19 total to $11.9 million resulting in a $15 million gap of what is owed by the state.

According to the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, the Peekskill School District is owed $14.5 million, with the Lakeland School District owed $5.7 million and the Brewster School District short $4.3 million.

“When you have a random formula like this where some districts are funded appropriately, some are above the formula and some are far less, this inequity makes it very burdensome for property taxpayers,” Harckham said. “The educational mission of the state should be equal opportunity for every student regardless of the zip code they live in, and the same goes for taxpayers.”

Harckham noted that the Hendrick Hudson School District only receives 53% of foundation aid, the Pleasantville Union Free School District receives 58% and the Somers School Districts gets 52%.

Officials are confident residents will recognize the disparity and put Democrats in control of the state Senate, where Harckham and Senator David Carlucci (D-Clarkstown) believe they can resolve the hefty shortfall. Harckham added that he would like to see funding for full-day universal pre-K and other programs, accusing Republican incumbent Senator Terrence Murphy (R-Yorktown) of focusing his efforts on increasing charter school funding.

Assemblywoman Sandy Galef (D-Ossining) added that the discrepancy with foundation aid was caused by Republican senators. She said the Democratic-controlled Assembly continues to press for mandating more equitable aid for Westchester, but Senate Republican leaders have repeatedly voted it down.

“Unless we have a democratic Senate, we are not going to solve this problem of foundation aid,” Galef said. “It will help you as a taxpayer.”

County legislator Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining) said the problem with inequality has impacted residents for several years. She said the foundation aid formula is a “flawed system.”

“When schools are underfunded they are forced to make decisions that shortchange our children,” Borgia said. “People struggle to pay their property taxes and it is not fair for us to not receive the proper level of foundation aid.”

State Funding Shortfall Hurts Local School Districts and Taxpayers

  • Standard Post
  • Written by bart

Harckham Reminds Voters of 10/12 Election Registration Deadline

Denounces Murphy Over Proposed Voter Suppression Legislation; Calls for Early Voting & Automatic Voter Registration

With an upcoming October 12 midterm election voter registration deadline approaching this Friday, Pete Harckham, Democratic candidate for the 40th New York State Senate District, is calling for early voting and automatic voter registration in New York State, while objecting to a bill sponsored by incumbent Republican State Senator Terrence Murphy which could suppress voter turnout.

Friday, October 12 is the deadline to register to vote in the November 6 midterm elections. Harckham, who actively supported voting rights while serving as Westchester County Legislature Majority Leader, reminds citizens to register. Individual voter registration status can be quickly and easily checked via this online tool from RockTheVote. Additional information is available from the New York State Board of Elections at https://www.elections.ny.gov/. “Registering to vote is important for all citizens as we approach the midterm elections,” Harckham stated. “As Barack Obama said, “Democracy is not a spectator sport”.

“We need to enable voters, rather than create barriers to voting,” continued Harckham. “There is currently no early voting or automatic voter registration in New York State because of obstructionist efforts in the Republican-controlled NY State Senate. We need policies that will strengthen the state’s electoral system and make it easier for voters to participate, not Sen. Murphy’s S298 bill, which could lead to the kind voter suppression we left behind in the Jim Crow era”.

According to Harckham, calls for additional voting regulations can be traced back to Donald Trump’s claims of voter fraud. Once the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity found no evidence to support this claim, Trump shut the commission down.

  • Standard Post
  • Written by bart

Verizon Fios1: Cuomo endorses Harckham

Cuomo endorses Harckham

Governor Andrew Cuomo has endorsed Pete Harckham for #StateSenate. #FiOS1News’ Jonathan Julien Gordon has the story.

Posted by Verizon FiOS1 – Lower Hudson Valley on Friday, October 5, 2018

Governor Andrew Cuomo has endorsed Pete Harckham for #StateSenate. #FiOS1News’ Jonathan Julien Gordon has the story.

  • Standard Post
  • Written by bart

Harckham Endorsed for Positions on Women’s Reproductive Rights

Major Support from Westchester Coalition for Legal Abortion PAC & Planned Parenthood Empire State Votes PAC

Two major women’s reproductive rights groups, the Westchester Coalition for Legal Abortion PAC and Planned Parenthood Empire State Votes PAC, have endorsed Democratic candidate Pete Harckham in the race against Republican incumbent State Senator Terrence Murphy for NYS SD40. The endorsements follow last week’s endorsement of Harckham for his support of women’s health care issues by NY State Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.

“With New York women’s rights under assault by Trump and his Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh, the Reproductive Health Act must be passed in order to protect the women of New York State,” said Catherine Lederer-Plaskett, Director of the Westchester Coalition for Legal Abortion PAC. “New York women deserve 21st-century healthcare. Peter’s opponent disagrees. We need to elect Pete Harckham so that he can cast the deciding vote codifying Roe v. Wade in NYS law.”

“We must fight to protect our health care and rights from the threat of a federal government that believes women shouldn’t have control over their own bodies,” said Robin Chappelle Golston, Chair of Planned Parenthood Empire State Votes PAC. “When elected to the NY State Senate, Pete Harckham will work closely with other elected representatives to create a strong state that can stand up to Washington’s attacks on our equality, health, rights, and well-being.”

“I’m grateful for the support of these two major women’s health care groups,” said Harckham. “As the father of two adult daughters, I care deeply about matters of women’s reproductive rights and health and will work diligently to make New York State a leader in protecting those rights”.

  • Standard Post
  • Written by bart

The Examiner: Harckham, Women’s Rights Advocates Press for Reproductive Health Act

Supporters of the proposed Reproductive Health Act 40th gathered in Chappaqua last Friday with Senate District candidate Peter Harckham urging the importance of swinging the Senate to the Democrats to pass the legislation.

Harckham was joined by Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul and other Democratic women officeholders at the Chappaqua train station the day after dramatic Senate Judiciary Committee testimony from U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, one of the women who accused him of sexual assault.

Harckham said passage of the Reproductive Health Act in New York is essential because it would codify Roe v. Wade in the event the landmark 1973 decision is overturned by the Supreme Court or portions of the ruling are weakened. Although New York State legalized abortion in 1970, it remains in the penal code instead of the health code, which could make it easier to curtail or deny abortions, he said.

The Democratic-controlled Assembly has approved the legislation multiple times but Senate Republican leaders have repeatedly thwarted it from reaching the floor for a vote, giving cover to their legislators, including 40thstate Senate District incumbent Terrence Murphy, Harckham’s opponent next month, supporters argued.

The Murphy-Harckham match up is seen as a key race in the Democrats’ quest to wrest control of the Senate.

“If it’s not this Judge Kavanaugh it will be the next Judge Kavanaugh,” Harckham said. “Who is to protect our daughters, our wives, our sisters, our partners? Will it be Sen. Terrence Murphy? I don’t think so.”

Hochul pledged that if the Democrats win the majority in the state Senate they would pass the Reproductive Health Act in the first 30 days of 2019. Other legislation, including passage of the Child Victims Act, would follow, she said.

“We have strongly believed for a long time that we need to protect the women of this state against the whims of Washington because we have said for years, you never know when the Supreme Court flips, Congress flips, when the presidency flips,” Hochul said. “Ladies and gentlemen, they have all flipped and they have flipped on their heads. It’s a very topsy-turvy time right now, an unsettling time. It’s a very somber time if you’re a woman in this country.”

In addition to abortion rights, contraception rights could also be in jeopardy of being hollowed out, said Catherine Lederer-Plaskett, president and chair of the Westchester Coalition for Legal Abortion.

She said that the legislation approved in 1970 during Republican Gov. Nelson Rockefeller’s administration and with both houses of the legislature controlled by the GOP, has not been updated to reflect changing times.

“We have not moved women’s health into the 21st century and we must do that,” Lederer-Plaskett said. “The only way we can do that is by making the majority of the Senate a Democratic majority. We are working hard to do that but without every single person out there voting to make the Senate majority Democrat, we will not get the Reproductive Health Act.”

After reaching out to Murphy last week, his campaign released a prepared statement calling Harckham’s press conference “a desperate attempt by my opponent to distract voters from the facts.”

Murphy’s statement pointed to his sponsorship of the women’s equality agenda, the state’s new sexual harassment law and new legislation to protect victims of rape and domestic violence as evidence that he has supported issues important to women.

“It’s easy to score a headline, but it is harder to actually deliver, and for (the) past four years I’m proud of all I have done for the people of the 40th Senate District,” Murphy’s statement read.

New Castle Councilwoman Ivy Pool said last week’s events in Washington makes the races for state legislature this year, including the Harckham-Murphy battle, critical battles.

“It’s been a stunning reminder that women’s equality is not inevitable and that we need elected officials at every level of government who see us, who hear us and who believe us when we tell stories of our own kind of experience,” Pool said.

  • Standard Post
  • Written by bart

Pete Harckham Calls for NY State Health Care Reform on WNYC

Murphy Ducks Debate Despite Issuing Previous Health Care Challenge; Has Access to Quality NYS Health Coverage, Why Can’t His Constituents?

Speaking on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show this morning, Pete Harckham, Democratic candidate for NY State Senate District 40 called for “real health care reform in New York State”. His opponent, incumbent Republican State Senator Terrence Murphy, declined to appear on the program despite previously issuing a public statement challenging Harckham to debate health care.

Listen to Harckham’s WNYC appearance at: https://www.wnyc.org/story/30-issues-new-york-health-act

“Healthcare should be a basic right available to all New York residents, not a privilege accessible only to those fortunate enough to afford it,” said Harckham. “Senator Murphy has access to high-quality affordable health coverage through Albany’s New York State Health Insurance Program, so why can’t his constituents have the same”?

“While the Affordable Care Act is being hollowed out by Donald Trump and Republican legislators, resulting in deteriorating health insurance coverage and increased premiums, Senator Murphy and his colleagues in the Republican-controlled State Senate are blocking key legislation that could improve health care in New York State from even being discussed on the Senate floor,” Harckam added.

“Debating options for universal health care in New York is the right thing to do, especially since studies by the RAND Corporation and UMass Amherst have found that such a system could improve care and save the state money,” Harckham said. “In addition, it may be the most comprehensive way to address the Opioid/Heroin addiction crisis and the lack of parity for mental health treatment”.

New York State Senate District 40 includes parts of Northern Westchester (Briarcliff Manor, Buchanan, Cortlandt, Croton-on-Hudson, Lewisboro, Mount Kisco, Mount Pleasant, New Castle, North Salem, Peekskill, Pleasantville, Pound Ridge, Sleepy Hollow, Somers, Yorktown) Putnam (Brewster, Carmel, Patterson, Southeast) and Dutchess (Beekman, Pawling).

District residents interested in Harckham’s New York State Senate campaign can visit www.PeteForNY.comhttp://www.facebook.com/PeteforNY and @PeteforNY on Twitter and Instagram to learn more, volunteer, or contribute.

  • Standard Post
  • Written by bart

WNYC: 30 Issues: New York Health Act

30 Issues in 30 Days continues: Since 1992, a bill that would give New Yorkers universal health care passed the state Assembly five times, including the last four years in a row, but it has always died in the Republican-controlled State Senate. Could that be about to change?

Listen to Pete Harckham on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show

Now that the State Senate is teetering on the edge of becoming Democrat, could The New York Health Act be about to see its day?

Pete Harckham, former Westchester County Legislator Majority Leader and Democratic Candidate for the New York State Senate in the 40thDistrict, and Chris Pope, Manhattan Institute senior fellow, debate about whether New Yorkers would be better off with single payer health care.

  • Standard Post
  • Written by bart

Senator Murphy Abuses Taxpayer Dollars To Fund Political Mailer

Harckham Demands Campaign Reimburse Taxpayers

Following the delivery of a political flyer to select postal addresses within NY State Senate District 40 by Senator Terrence Murphy, Democratic candidate Pete Harckham is demanding that Murphy reimburse taxpayers for the expense. The flyers (pictured above) which were not sent to every constituent, were clearly targeted to a political audience, using taxpayer money to fund a political mailer very close to the upcoming election on November 6.

“It is outrageous that Terrence Murphy is using taxpayer dollars to fund his reelection bid by sending state financed mailers after the primary,” says Harckham. “Getting taxpayers to pick up this tab is the kind of shenanigans that has people outraged at Albany politicians. He needs to tell taxpayers how much of their money he spent on his political mail and when he will reimburse them.”

Harckham notes the NY State Assembly, which has a Democratic majority, has rules prohibiting sending out such mailers close to an election. However the Republican-controlled NY State Senate has different rules. “The Senate should have similar rules and hopefully will enact them when a Democratic majority is elected,” Harckham adds.

Murphy mailers

New York State Senate District 40 includes parts of Northern Westchester (Briarcliff Manor, Buchanan, Cortlandt, Croton-on-Hudson, Lewisboro, Mount Kisco, Mount Pleasant, New Castle, North Salem, Peekskill, Pleasantville, Pound Ridge, Sleepy Hollow, Somers, Yorktown) Putnam (Brewster, Carmel, Patterson, Southeast) and Dutchess (Beekman, Pawling).

District residents interested in Harckham’s New York State Senate campaign can visitwww.PeteForNY.comhttp://www.facebook.com/PeteforNY and @PeteforNY on Twitter andInstagram to learn more, volunteer, or contribute.

  • Standard Post
  • Written by bart