He condemned what he called the "divisive Robin Hood approach" of taking money from wealthy school districts to finance poor ones.

Patching the money pit of the New York City school system is an undue burden for upstaters, who already face their own school-funding issues.

Yet an income tax is one of the fairest methods for revenue raising, as New York attempts to provide valued services, such as a basic education, for all of its citizens.

Education financing is fraught with a multitude of problems.

On the state level, New York is under a court order to overhaul how it distributes its aid. There are so many categories of aid, trying to apply for and keep track of them is a full-time job and then some.

You can't get a simple answer about how much state aid a school district receives. And there is no sound way to determine how effectively the most basic of state aid is being used.

Closer to home, every land owner also pays for public education with property taxes paid to his or her home school district. For decades, legislators have decried the inequity of property taxes for funding schools, but it never changes.

If anything, the situation gets worse. No matter how you look at it, property taxes are not the fairest way to pay for public education.

In any economy, and especially the rare thriving one, the value of a house may have no correlation to its owner's financial ability to pay wildly increasing taxes. In weak economies, a decreasing commercial or residential tax base shifts more of the cost of running schools on already overburdened property taxes.

It's almost a no-win for New Yorkers. School districts rely more and more on property taxes for their budgets. Meanwhile, there's no accounting for the contribution made to the state funding of education through income taxes. And don't get us started on the lotteries.

All told, Pataki's throwaway lines about the need to revise the distribution of education funding barely scratch the surface of a system desperate for a major overhaul.