Monday, March 21, 2011


Written by John E. Brooks

The objective of this proposal is to provide all School Districts in the State of New York with the ability to provide a quality education to the students enrolled in that district by means of establishing a statewide equitable funding method.


Educational funding under the current system makes use of three principal funding methods, state aid which is financed by means of state taxes, local residential property taxes and local commercial property taxes.  While the state has attempted to provide state aid by means of formulas that take into consideration both need and affordability, the system has resulted in a wide disproportionate level of funding within geographic regions and local neighborhoods.  The current formula does not consider the expense management of the school district, the contribution levels made to educational funding by the homeowner versus the commercial property tax owner and the special needs required by students within the school district. As a result the state aid and consequently the state budget has resulted in annual battles between upstate and downstate, city and suburban areas and the result of many have and have not districts. Each year a band aid is placed on the formula to make some adjustments but in the end the system itself no longer works for the education community, the students and the taxpayers of this state.

For many areas of New York State the primary funding source for education is now property taxes.  In Nassau County 85% of education is now funded by local property taxes in Suffolk County it is 80%. For school district that do not have large commercial property tax sources the tax burden is almost totally on the homeowner.


Under the current method of funding education in New York State, each district has three primary funding or revenue methods: personal property taxes, commercial property taxes and state aid.  This current method has resulted in a significant imbalance of tax rates and educational funding from district to district that are in close geographic proximity. It is also widely understood and agreed that there is a need to recognize regional cost factors that are reflective of the economic conditions and costs in the many regions of this state. Some regions have significantly higher cost of living expenses than others resulting in the cost of similar services varying by as much as thirty percent from one region of the state to another.

Under the Educational Funding Reform Proposal the State Department of Education will submit for approval to the State Legislature sixteen (16) Educational Economic Zones. Each Educational Economic Zone will be made up of school districts in the same geographic region that have similar “cost of living” factors that will take into consideration all relevant regional cost factors. . The City of New York is an Educational Economic Zone unto itself.  

The State Legislature may select any number of Educational Economic Zones they feel needed.  The objective of the Educational Economic Zones is to allow the State to take into consideration regional cost factors in establishing the core cost of education.  These same zones could also be used to established special economic aid as addressed further in this proposal.


The State Department of Education will establish a CORE Educational Expense Factor for each Educational Economic Zone that represents the minimum (average for zone) cost of the states required core educational programs on a per student basis. The expense factor will take into consideration the cost of books (with a reasonable replacement schedule), the cost of teacher salaries, all building related expenses, transportation costs for students at state guidelines, all required support services, and reasonable administrative salaries and expenses. The Core Educational Expense Factor will not include the additional cost of special education and special needs students.

After the establishment of these initial factors, the State Department of Education will be required to submit revised annual Core Educational Expense Factors by Educational Economic Zone each year on January 1st to the State Legislature.  The State Legislature will have until March 1st to revise these factors.  After March 1st the Educational Factors that have been established by the Department of Education or those revised by the State Legislature shall be used for the school year to commence July 1st.

The establishment of Core Educational Expense Factors will for the first time give some responsibility to the State Education Department to help control educational costs.  In establishing these cost factors the state will for the first time have to address student to teacher ratios, class size, Regional averages for Administration size and expense, sports programs, text book replacement and compensation programs. 


The State of New York will provide to each public school district by means of the funding methods outlined in this proposal 100% of the Core Educational Expense Factor for all students attending each school district.  For students attending private educational programs within the County of Residence, the state will provide 20% of the Core Educational Expense Factor to the local school district to provide for transportation costs, text books and other services. The local district expense for all non public students’ shall be limited to 20% of the Core Educational Expense Factor.


The funding of the Core Educational Expense Factor will have two primary sources of funding:

Personal Income Taxes: 

On a statewide basis, the amount of 70% of the cost for the Minimum Educational Expense Factor for all students attending public schools will be paid by a statewide educational income tax.  The tax rate will be universal for all residents and income earners in the state who have earned an income above the minimum income level. It shall be the responsibility of the State Comptroller to establish this tax rate by June 1st each year to be effective the following July 1st.  It shall also be the responsibility of the Comptroller to insure a minimum allowance is included in this tax rate to compensate for any shortfalls that may result from reduction in income from year to year.  A minimum reserve shall be maintained by the state for these shortfalls. All excess funds in this account will be used to reduce the educational income tax on a statewide basis.

Under current pension programs many governmental and educational employees have been fully exempted from state income tax.  Under this program consideration can be given to the establishment of an educational income tax which would include those now exempt for any retirement in disability benefit above a certain amount (perhaps $30,000). Today these individual pay no income tax but the resident are force to pay all increase in health insurance and other related programs with no contribution from these individuals.

Commercial Property Taxes:

On a county basis, the amount of 30% of the cost for the Core Educational Expense Factor for all students attending public and private schools within the county shall be funded by means of a county wide educational property tax.  This tax will be based on the assessed value of the commercial property and paid to the local receiver of taxes.  The local receiver of taxes will provide the funding to the local school district for all students that reside within that school district.  The local school district will then provide the funds to any private school for those students who reside within the district but are attending a private school within the county. No Commercial Property Tax Funds shall be provided for a student attending private school outside the county of residence.

[Under this proposal, the local school districts will no longer be required to fund the cost of those students from the district who elect to go to private schools.  Commercial Property Taxes will be divided equally for all students of both public and private schools within the county.  Since this tax will be on a countywide basis it will be more stabilized. Those students who elect to be educated at a private school outside of the county will not be provided any public funds for their education.  Members of many communities support commercial properties like malls and entertainment centers; therefore all communities shall share the funds raised for education.  Special taxes like fire, roads, and lighting will continue to be collected under the commercial property taxes as they are now.]


At times commercial and special use facilities are required to provide special services to communities that are viewed to have a negative impact on the value of the community and are generally not desired by a community. These type facilities can range from a jail or prison to a sewer treatment plant, utility power generation plant, a waste treatment facility or chemical storage or treatment facility.  As these facilities have an adverse effect on the community. A special property tax will be added to these facilities and provided solely to the school district in which they are located. The state legislature will develop a list of these types of facilities and the special tax to be levied within 90 days of passage of this proposal. This list may be amended at the start of each legislative session but such amendments must be completed and approved not later than January 31.  The funds generated by this provision shall be aid provide to the district in addition to the Core Educational Expense Factor.


Special Education Costs:

The Core Educational Expense Factor shall not include the cost of special education or other special needs students.  Each School District shall submit to the State Department of Education by September 1st the anticipated additional cost for each special education student or special needs student in the District.  The State Education Department shall review and approve the expenses associated with each student.  The department may increase or reduce the expenses for any student based on the department’s review and the information submitted by the District.  The additional funding required for these students will be provided to the School District by April 1st each school year.  These Funds will be provided as part of the Legislature’s Educational State Aid Fund.

The State Education Department for the first time will assume responsibility within the educational budget for the expenses associated with the programs they have approved for these students. This new responsibility may lead to the development of more effective programs for these students.

State Aid for Emergency Situations:

The State Legislature may provide to a School District, Educational Economic Zone, or all Educational Economic Zones in the state special economic assistance during times of emergencies.  These funds can be used to help with the repair of schools following disasters, to help offset the Commercial Educational Property Taxes for areas with significant economic problems, or to fund special educational programs on a state wide basis. Emergency State Aid for Education shall require a 60% approval vote of each House of the Legislature and must detail the purpose and use of all funds.  This legislation may not have any non-education-related amendments included within the request for funds.

This proposal gives the Legislature the ability to address emergencies that may come to pass but requires that 60% or more of both houses are in agreement.  The objective here is to force the Legislature to work together to address these needs.

School District Spending Requests:

A School District that requests to spend more than the Minimum Educational Expense Factor per student, or would like to use more lenient transportation guidelines or offer additional programs may do so by funding those programs by means of a Special Property Tax to be paid for by the property owners of the school district.  Such a tax may not include the commercial property within that school district.  A School District that would like to spend these additional funds must submit for approval of the voters of the District a Special Budget on the first Tuesday in April of the preceding school year.  The District Special Budget must be renewed (approved) each year by the voters of the School District.  A Special Budget that fails to win the approval of the voters may be re-voted upon once. That vote must be held on the first Tuesday in May. The Receiver of Taxes as will collect the Special Educational School District Tax as is done under the current funding laws.

[This allows districts that want to spend more the ability to do so, but requires the cost be paid for by the residents of the district upon their voted approval.  The commercial property within the district would not be subject to this additional tax, further stabilizing their tax rate over today’s system.]


There shall be four sources of funding for all School Districts in New York State:
a)      Commercial Property Taxes.
b)      State Educational Assistance Grants.
c)      Personal Income Taxes.
d)      Special School District Property Taxes.

Each of these sources will be detailed below as to how funding from those sources would be provided to the individual school district.

Commercial Property Taxes:  The tax rate would be set at the county level for all commercial taxes.  The tax rate would be set for a three-year period.  The only increase in taxes a commercial property would be subject to in the three-year period would be if the assessed value were adjusted. The Commercial Property Taxes would be collected by the local tax collection authority and distributed to the school district or private school on September 1 of the new school year based on student enrollment.

This puts all districts within a County on the same level in terms of contribution from commercial property taxes.  While districts that now get significant amounts of tax revenue from commercial property taxes will object to this change, they will be receiving the same level of state aid as all other districts within their county.

State Educational Assistance Grants: Funds for these programs would be approved by the state legislature and the distribution of these funds would be made on June 1 and December 1 of the School year.

Personal Income Taxes: These funds would be collected by the State Department of Taxes and distributed to all school districts on the following dates; July 1 (30%), October 1 (30%)  January 1 (40%). The distribution of these funds would be based on the student enrollment report submitted 30 days prior to the payment date. A newly enrolled student would have to provide proof the parents or guardian of the child were paying New York State income taxes.  Any student whose guardian did not pay taxes by means of using an out of state address to avoid the taxes would be subject to a full tuition charge to attend the school.

Special School District Property Taxes:  These funds would be collected by the local tax collection agency and distributed on July 1 (60%) and January 1 (40%).  The distribution of funds would be subject to the total tax collected for the district.


School Districts may elect to participate in program that will reduce or eliminate some of the cost of support services by partnering with other districts to share services, resources or equipment.  Districts who elect to participate in the programs noted below will continue to receive full funding of the core educational costs and the savings that result from these voluntary programs may be used to expand other educational programs in the districts.

Shared Services Agreements:  Districts may elect to share services, or enter into joint purchasing agreements that provide expense savings as a result of bulk purchasing or single multidistrict contracts. 

Administrative Districts:  Multiple districts may at the approval of the voters of each district, elect to form an Administrative District.  An Administrative District shall be defined as multiple school districts who shall one Central Administration Office that shall be staffed with one District Superintendent and any additional required administrative staff required to provide all central administrative business and personnel  services for all member districts. Each of the member districts shall continue to be recognized as an individual school district and may continue to provide all educational, sports and extra curricular programs normally provided by a School District. Each District shall continue to elect a Board of Education and when required have a budget vote for the district. Each District shall continue to be funded under  the formula of this proposal.  The savings realized by the use of one Central Administration can be used by the member districts to expand educational programs or reduce any tax levy that may be required.  The allocation of expenses for the central Administration Office of the  Administration District shall be done based on student population of each member district. All member districts of an Administration District must be in the same Educational Economic Zone.

This is a significant and voluntary step forward in addressing administrative costs while at the same time "preserving local school districts economically".

John E. Brooks
PO BOX 2541
Seaford NY 11783

School Funding Reform the Only Way to Save Public Education

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has inherited a state that is on the financial brink. We have to applaud him for his efforts to address the crisis, but we must also recognize that Albany has provided him with a broken toolbox for him to work with. Our current state aid formulas do not work. We need to take a fresh look at how we are funding education in this state.  Here on Long Island school funding has been reduced to the point that in Nassau County 85% and in Suffolk 80% of the cost of education is being paid for by property taxes.  We have some of the highest taxes in the Country and with the proposed cuts in education it is only going to get worse.

As a candidate for the New York State Assembly I proposed a funding program that would provide equitable public school funding based on student enrollment using regional cost factors for the core cost of education.  When we talk about school funding today we never look at it on a per student basis because Albany does not want anyone to see what is really going on. 

Nassau County is scheduled to receive on a countywide basis $3,716.06 per student of state aid. The city of Buffalo will get $15,343.05, Rochester $13,273.87 and New York City $7373.60. Nassau County gets the least amount of state aid and will be taking one of the largest cuts in state aid.
I am again proposing we to provide all School Districts in the State of New York with the ability to provide a quality education to the students enrolled in that district by means of establishing a statewide equitable funding method. Funding should be done on a per student basis for the core cost of education (required course, support services, transportation, teacher salaries and administration costs) based on regional cost factors.  

When we look at the proposed state aid on a per student basis it is very clear the current system is unfair. If we take into consideration most of the state funding for education comes from income taxes and understand that the downstate region contributes significantly more in income taxes that other regions the imbalance is even greater.

This is not a case of upstate verses downstate or city verses suburban areas. We accept those who earn more will contribute more in the form of income taxes. But once the educational fund has been established it should be distributed based on student population and regional cost factors.  Every school district should have an equal share of the core cost of education.  That does not prohibit the state legislature from providing additional funds for those districts that have economic problems, but such funds should be provided above the equal distribution of funding based on the core cost factors using regional cost factors.

It is time the State Department of Education assumed some responsibility in controlling the cost of education.  Their role will be to determine the core cost of education under this revised program.  That means they have to answer the questions on class room size, teacher and administration ratios, transportation and sports program.  In the end it means every district will start the budget process on even ground.  Districts will continue to have the right to spend more, but the voters of the district will know what the core cost is and then can ask for justification of any additional spending. 

Under this proposal the core cost of education will be funded by state aid (statewide income taxes) and a county wide commercial property tax.  This will place every school district on equal base funding.  It is time for you to ask your local State Assemblyman or State Senator why for each dollar Nassau County school districts get, New York City gets two and Buffalo gets more than four.  Your school taxes are as high as they are because your state legislator is not doing the job.  It is time for real equality in school funding.  Let’s stop reporting state aid in gross numbers lets require it be reported on a per student basis. 

Governor Cuomo has shown he is willing to address the state budget problems, lets give him a workable state aid program to fix state education aid statewide.

The chart  below provides a sample of the proposed state aid by school district on a per student basis for both the 2010-2011 and 20110-2012 school years.

State Aid for Education on Per Student Basis

County or City
2010-2011 State Aid
Per Student Aid
2011-2012 State Aid
Per Student Aid
% Reduction
% to Nassau
Long Island
New York City
Mount Vernon

J. Brooks

John Brooks
Seaford NY
Brooks is a former member of the Seaford Board of Education and ran for the State Assembly last fall

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Closing Campaign Statement from John Brooks:

Our campaign was one based on the issues that face Long Island and the state of New York. We presented real and workable solutions to a broad range of issues; from revisiting the way we fund education, addressing the crisis in mass transit, the needed reform in Albany, and the creation of jobs for Long Islander’s. I believe that those who looked at our message understood that we were suggesting a better direction for this great state. I am very proud of this campaign, and the manner in which it was run. This was not a campaign based on smear tactics, but rather hard-core facts and solid issues. Thank you to all of my family members, friends, and campaign volunteers for making this possible. Thank you to the thousands of people who voted for me. Thank you to the Democratic and Working Families party for the nomination. In defeat we are motivated to carry on for a better New York. 

Thank you!

John E. Brooks

Monday, November 1, 2010

Open Letter from John to the 19th District

Dear Neighbor:

I am a candidate for the New York State Assembly in this Tuesday's elections.   I am running for the Assembly because I know that communities like Seaford have been underserved by Albany, particularly when it comes to state aid for education.  My ties to this community date back to its earliest days when my family, the Verity's and the Southard's, first settled in Seaford.  I love this community and have served as Chief of the Seaford Fire Department and Vice President of the Seaford Board of Education.

Today we are providing you with a copy of Newsday's Endorsement in which they acknowledge that the incumbent "Dave McDonough is a good guy.  But John Brooks is just the kind of person we need more of in Albany.  Newsday endorses Brooks".  The endorsement highlights some of the key proposals I have made.  We have run a campaign with limited funding and will be outspent by a 20 to 1 ratio, but we have run a campaign of real solutions.  People understand we have the right ideas.  This election is not about Republican v. Democrat.  It is about your future, your taxes, jobs, mass transit and real workable solutions for improving our lives.

I ask for your vote on Tuesday so we can start in a new direction with someone in Albany who is not there to represent a political party or special interests but rather to represent YOU -- the tax payer and my neighbor.

Thank you for your vote and support,

John E. Brooks
Candidate for New York State Assembly
Nassau County 19th District

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Campaign of Ideas and Solutions

As we move into the final hours of our campaign we know that we ran a campaign that has presented to the residents of our Assembly District real solutions to the problems we face here on Long Island and all around this state.

We received Newsday's endorsement because the ideas and solutions I have presented are fiscally sound and are designed to turn our economy around.  We need to reform the way we fund education in this state, put caps on spending both at the state and local level. 

Our Mass Transit System needs to be changed beginning with the repeal of the MTA tax.  We must save the Long Island Bus System. We also have to bring more jobs back to Long Island and make the State more friendlier to business so firms will bring new employment opportunities to New York. 

We will be out in the neighborhoods today and the rail road stations Monday and Tuesday.  I ask that you call your friends; make sure they know how important this election is.  On Election Day you are voting on your school taxes, job creation, transportation reform and your future when you vote for the Assembly in Row 19 on the ballot. If someone is not sure on who to vote for direct them to Newsday's Endorsement Section on line for the 19th Assembly District. It can be found on our web site.

This Halloween let’s make sure the taxpayers get a Treat in sending John Brooks to Albany to get the reforms and changes so terribly needed to make Long Island affordable, rather than the tricks they have received in the past.

All of these ideas can be found in writing on my web site.

Thank you all for your support! Please call your friends and neighbors over the next few days.  Every vote counts and we can win this election and the other side knows it.  That is why they are spending so much in these closing days.

Thank You,
John Brooks

Friday, October 29, 2010

Brooks Calls Out Assemblyman McDonough. Brooks Demands the details to potential job cut’s

 An Open Letter:

Brooks Calls Out Assemblyman McDonough

Demands the details to potential job cut’s

A campaign flier calling for a reduction in the size of government by 20 percent was mailed to my home from a career politician and my opponent Assemblyman McDonough. I have debated the current Assemblyman, and have been represented by this man for nine years and all I have are questions. Assemblyman McDonough - where are the details in your plan to cut?  Did Assemblyman McDonough and Carl Paladino hold a private meeting to hatchet out plans?  Is Assemblyman McDonough calling for the complete destruction of the State University System of New York (SUNY)? Is the current Assemblyman preparing to layoff one in every five state employees? 

Throughout this campaign I have not only called for changes in New York but have provided a plan to execute and deliver them.  Newsday in its endorsement of me wrote that I had “developed an imaginative plan in writing for reforming state aid to education.” and the LI Herald wrote that I have “real plans, written out and well organized.”

I spent eight years as the Director of Planning and Financial Control at GEICO insurance and I understand how to make a plan, and a budget. I have the experience to deliver.   We the people are tired of career politicians telling us that they have plans that we never see.  We the people are frustrated with politicians who make bold promises in a campaign and never deliver.

Albany is broken and we need leaders who will stand and deliver results not empty promises. I can not sit back and let Assemblyman Dave McDonough a nine year veteran of the dysfunctional Albany make campaign promises with no actual plan.  If the Paladino-McDonough team has a plan to improve this great state then lets see them.

John Brooks is the Democratic Candidate for the 19th Assembly District. The District includes Seaford, Wantagh, Bellmore, Merrick, and parts of Freeport, Baldwin, Levittown, East Meadow, North Merrick and North Bellmore. John Brooks a past Chief and active member of the Seaford Fire Department, the Seaford Historical Society, a former member of the Seaford Board of Education, a veteran of the U.S Army, and was the First Director of Risk Management for Nassau County. He resides in Seaford and has one son.

To learn more about John Brooks, email the campaign at