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Cuomo Critical of Pataki's Education Budget

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – One of the Democratic candidates for New York governor says keeping the Buffalo school district in good financial shape is important to improving the local economy.

"He doesn't have the money for the education of the children of Buffalo," said Andrew Cuomo during an appearance in Buffalo Monday. Cuomo says Governor Pataki's proposed budget for fiscal 2002-03 doesn't provide needed education funding statewide, and specifically fails to help Buffalo's struggling school district. Cuomo says this, in turn, hurts Buffalo's economy.

"Education is also economic development," Cuomo said. "A business deciding where to move to or whether or not to stay -- the one question they have is where to get a work force? And one answer is going to be who has the best public education system, and it starts literally with elementary schools."

Cuomo says a strong education system is the reason why many people locate to certain areas. He says if Buffalo schools are hurting it will force people to move out of the city and into the suburbs.

"If you force me to move to the suburbs to educate my child in public schools, I will," he said. "And that's exactly what this governor is doing. He is forcing people to move to the county, outside of the city, to educate their children and it's just wrong."

Cuomo says the state's public education system, along with the formula for state aid has been broken for long time.

"People don't even know who's responsible for the public education system. They don't even know who runs it."

Cuomo says the governor has never showed leadership to solve the education problem, but stopped short at offering his own suggestion for changing the school aid formula process.

Cuomo and state Assemblyman Sam Hoyt are calling on Pataki to amend his budget to include enough funds for Buffalo schools, which they say could face a $41 million shortfall for the next school year.