Will State Aid Cuts Affect School Sports?

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Noting the unpredictable nature of the federal government’s pandemic response, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called for more federal aid last weekend to embattled states.

While the government has moved swiftly to help businesses and provide needed medical supplies, he said other fronts have been ignored, and added schools across the state could be looking at a 20 percent cut in state aid. While many western Long Island schools that rely heavily on that aid have announced athletic programs could end up in the crosshairs, most officials on the East End believe, as it stands now, their districts will be in good shape.

“We don’t get much aid from New York State – I think we only get around $1 million,” Southampton Athletic Director Darren Phillips said. “I am not sure how it will impact us, but cutting any sports has not come up as a concern with cuts in state aid.”

Sag Harbor Athletic Director Eric Bramoff said because everything is changing so rapidly, he can’t even attempt to speculate.

“We are preparing for many different outcomes,” he said. “The administration and the school board will have to make many decisions over the next year that will have a direct effect on the athletic program. Even though athletics are important, at this time they are not the first priority, and they shouldn’t be.”

Westhampton Beach Athletic Director Kathleen Masterson said her district’s outlook is currently positive, but went on to say it depends if more cuts are to come.

East Hampton and Hampton Bays athletic directors did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Cuomo said May 10 the current impact on the state’s financial plan is about $61 billion. Back on April 20 he stated New York was already in a more than $10-billion hole.

“Almost every state has a significant financial problem because of the loss of revenue due to the economy,” the governor said. “Our economy was doing great, really great in this state.”

To compound the problem, the state’s COVID-19-related expenses will cost an additional $5 billion annually over the next two years.

“All this hospital work and testing,” Cuomo said. “We then have essential state agencies that are operating that have also taken a tremendous financial loss, like the MTA, which operates subways and buses, and collects revenue from tolls when people go over bridges and through tunnels.”

Ridership is down 92 percent. The Port Authority of New York is also seeing tremendous losses at airports. The governor said New York alone would need about $35 billion this year to compensate for novel coronavirus-related losses.

“The economic impact is beyond anything that any state can deal with,” Cuomo said. “If the federal government doesn’t help the states, then you’re forcing the states to cut funding.”

Local government and hospitals could see similar cuts in state aid.

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