Cutting until it hurts

Jessica Lewis

There have been a lot of cuts to state programs as a result of the budget deficit, and on most accounts, I think I’ve given Governor Paterson the benefit of the doubt.

As the new taxes on things from hair cuts to golf games to soda have been proposed, I haven’t complained (much) and I’ve even tried to look at the reasons why those additional taxes are necessary. Then came the funding cuts. Local municipalities and school districts, already hurting, have been asked to hold their breath and hope for the best as the state funding picture is determined. And despite the fact that a lot of districts are talking about layoffs or massive tax increases, I could still see where the state government was coming from. To save a lot of money, we need to look at the bigger expenses and try to find ways to cut back.

I can try to find the positive in a lot of the things the state is doing, but when I heard this morning that the state has decided to stop providing the NY Lottery Leaders of Tomorrow Scholarship, citing budget worries, I had to wonder what our state officials are really thinking.

I understand that the scholarship is not a mandatory program. Sure, it’s an expense that we could do without, but in these economic times, as it is getting harder and harder for students to get loans for school, is this really the time to cut the programs that would help those kids get a head. How many students could have been helped by that funding? And how many are going to be struggling without the financial assistance that program provided?

I know that the state needs to cut the budget and figure out a way to keep New Yorkers from struggling under the property tax burden, but they need to do so without taking away the few programs that actually help residents to succeed on their own.

*** I learned about this story after reading reports from other news sites and getting e-mails from upset parents. A link to one of those stories is posted below.

After this blog was posted, we received the following response from the NY Lottery:


The New York Lottery is now accepting applications for the $5,000 Leaders of Tomorrow Scholarship for the 2009-10 academic year.

“One graduating senior from every participating public and private high school across New York State will receive a Leaders of Tomorrow Scholarship this year,” said New York Lottery Director Gordon Medenica. “I strongly encourage those community-minded students in the Class of 2009 to learn more about this important financial aid opportunity to help them complete their higher education here in New York State.”

The Leaders of Tomorrow Scholarship recognizes strong academic achievement as well a student’s participation in extracurricular activities and his or her demonstrated commitment to community service. The $5,000 scholarship is distributed in payments of $625 per semester and may be applied toward the cost of attendance at any New York State accredited college, university, trade school or community college.

Participating high schools are required to submit the names of two students to the Lottery for consideration. A multidisciplinary selection panel comprised of professional educators, administrators, counselors and other qualified staff then reviews candidate applications and selects a winner. The second nominee may be eligible to receive the scholarship in the event the original recipient cannot accept the award.

Application materials for the 2009-10 Leaders of Tomorrow Scholarship are now available at high schools statewide. Interested students may inquire about the program through their Principal’s office or Guidance department.

The deadline for schools to return completed applications and accompanying student transcripts to the Lottery for consideration is April 8, 2009.

The Leaders of Tomorrow Scholarship is an extension of the New York Lottery’s mission to raise revenue to support education in New York State. Since 1999 the New York Lottery has awarded more than 10,000 Leaders of Tomorrow Scholarships to high school graduates across New York State.

The New York Lottery partners with New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) and University of Albany’s Capital Area School District Association, (CASDA), to administer the program. For more information about Leaders of Tomorrow Scholarship, call 518-525-2686.
The New York Lottery contributed nearly $2.6 billion in fiscal year 2007-08 to help support education in New York State, over 13 percent of total state education funding to local school districts. The New York Lottery continues to be North America’s largest and most profitable Lottery, earning over $34.2 billion in education support statewide since its founding over 40 years ago.