Now you see it, now you don’t! *

In Columns by Hal PetersonLeave a Comment

On February 25, 2014, Senators Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn) Chair of the New York City Education Subcommittee, and Martin Golden (R-C-I, Brooklyn), introduced  legislation that would give a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for money spent on education scholarships …public, private or parochial schools, all included.

This legislation (S 4099-A) gained the support of Governor Cuomo and the vast majority of the senators legislative colleagues, James Cultrara, Director of Education at the New York State Catholic Conference, and Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Executive Vice President of Agudath Israel.

Justification! Currently the state’s nearly 3 million public school students benefit from some $21 billion in funding while, approximately 400,000 non-public school students, get less than $200 million in  funding, including textbooks, computers, etc.

On March 18th the governor told Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the New York Archdiocese and eight diocesan Bishops’ he supports’ the legislation that will help “sustain struggling Catholic schools and low and middle-income families.” Really!

As reported in Hamodia, a daily newspaper of Torah Jewry two weeks later, Gov. Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, two other co-leaders of the Senate, Republican Dean Skelos and Independent Democrat Jeff Klein, excluded needed funding from the budget, stopping any chance of its passage. Significantly, Skelos said later, the “fight to pass the tax credit was not over yet” hinting that he would push for its passage over the summer.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan was very disappointed claiming “state leaders missed a great opportunity to show their real commitment to the education of parochial school students across New York.” How serious? More than 257 of the state’s 792 Catholic schools have closed in the last decade resulting in 85,130 fewer enrolled students. With thousands of these students transferring to public schools, the state has faced significant new costs…higher school taxes…to educate these former tuition-paying families.

On January 21st Gov. Cuomo presented his “2015 Opportunity Agenda” that would remove New York City’s limit on charter schools, and more importantly revive a plan for $100 million in tax credits to corporations and individuals that invest in either public or private schools such as after-school programs or Catholic school scholarships.” Unfortunately, in my opinion, the education tax credit would be tied to the “Dream Act” legislation providing state college financial aid to undocumented immigrants.

In closing, two recommendations. One, use my web site as a valued resource. Two, spread the word to encourage some 26 elementary parish schools located on Long Island alone, and other private schools, to use their web site’s to keep tuition paying families well informed.

  • 4/3/15 Not considered in final budget submission.







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