AUGUST 24, 1959
HYDE PARK—The running controversy between New York City Controller Gerosa and other officials over the proposed $500,000,000 bond issue for school construction is one of those public questions which cannot be decided without long-range study. One has to look into the situation beyond the mere fact of whether there will be enough money available to meet this year's school construction requirements. As elsewhere throughout the nation, our problem is to assure adequate educational facilities for a growing school population over a period of years.
The bond issue will be submitted on November 3 to the people of the state as a constitutional amendment. The city proposes to spend a maximum of $50 million a year from these funds, which are exempt from the debt limit. Under state law the city will be required to match bond issue money for school construction from funds within the debt limit.
Controller Gerosa claims that the city has enough funds within the debt limit for school construction this year, but the question is whether that will be true in the years ahead. Mr. Gerosa charges that the City Planning Commission has been "dreaming big dreams," and that is why a bond issue outside the debt limit is necessary. The Controller says that these requests are padded. He claims that the Planning Commission simply spends more and more money and makes higher and higher demands, and therefore has to propose going outside the debt limit. On the other hand, supporters of the bond issue say that while Mr. Gerosa may be correct in assuming that these capital needs could be covered this year from the tax fund, it would be at the expense of other vital needs the city cannot ignore.
As far as I can see, there is no way to be sure that the funds Mr. Gerosa has this year will be available next year. If we are going to do what we should for the children in this city, we must know what we will have for a number of years ahead. We cannot plan to spend our funds economically and well unless we can look into the future. Moreover, the city cannot allocate all of its available funds to the schools. Our population increases, placing added burdens on such things as the transit facilities and sewage system. No city can afford to ignore everything else that is vital and concentrate exclusively on the schools. Yet it is absolutely necessary that our schools be adequate. Otherwise we are throwing away the future and expecting our children to do their part in the world of tomorrow without proper preparation. They will not thank us for our parsimony in keeping from them the best possible training.
I have a feeling that in all public works it is possible to save money. If there were no politics connected, it might be possible to double such savings. But this is a situation in which it is better even to accept some waste rather than deny our children the education without which they certainly can not compete in the world of tomorrow.