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March 22, 2014

Constitution will pipe money into local schools

The Daily Star

---- — The Constitution Pipeline project will be good for New York state because it will increase critical energy supply infrastructure to bring inexpensive natural gas from Pennsylvania to power homes and businesses. It will also be good for our region of New York state because it will bring natural gas to power Amphenol Aerospace in Sidney, the largest private sector employer between Albany and Binghamton — with more than 1,000 jobs.

But Constitution will also be good for communities which do not now and might never have access to natural gas distribution because it will pay a significant amount of property taxes to support our schools and local governments. In fact, Constitution is estimated to pay approximately $13 million annually in property tax payments to communities and school districts in Broome, Chenango, Delaware and Schoharie counties. 

As a former state Assemblyman and candidate for governor, I know firsthand how difficult the economic conditions are in upstate New York. New Yorkers have been voting with their feet for years, fleeing to other states with more hospitable tax and regulatory environments.

It is also no secret that our school districts are feeling significant pressure, with a slow-growing or declining tax base and loss of enrollment.

That is one significant reason why the Constitution Pipeline will benefit all the communities where it will be built. Close to $8 million of the property taxes that Constitution will pay each yearwill go to local school districts. These are new revenues which will help educate our students and reduce the property tax pressure on homeowners. And these new revenues will come to our communities each year.

Currently, school districts are dealing with the so-called “gap elimination adjustment,” which was imposed by the state to cover the state budget deficit in 2011. This year, schools in the Constitution Pipeline region will suffer state aid reductions due to the gap elimination adjustment of approximately $7 million. Isn’t a good thing that in 2015 these same districts can anticipate a new revenue source of nearly $8 million?

Those opposed to the Constitution Pipeline offer many reasons for their position. I don’t disparage people who genuinely oppose new energy development in the U.S., but I don’t agree with them. We need new energy sources and a safe, modern infrastructure to deliver energy to our homes and factories. This will help our national economy, make the U.S. less dependent on foreign sources of energy and help create and save jobs.

Some people don’t see it that way, but there is one thing that every fair-minded person should recognize. The Constitution Pipeline will help pay for our schools and the education of our kids. In doing so, it will also relieve pressure on hard-pressed property tax payers in the region — and that is just the relief we need.

John J. Faso is a lawyer/consultant to the Constitution Pipeline. He was a former Minority Leader of the state Assembly, representing Schoharie County in the 102nd Assembly district, and was candidate for governor of New York in 2006.