New York City, N.Y., Jun 25, 2014 / 04:44 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Local Catholics are lamenting New York state legislators' move to deny a tax credit that would boost funding to create scholarships for students in need at private and religious schools.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan and the New York Catholic Conference had strongly supported the Education Investment Tax Credit, with both voicing deep disappointment that the bill was not passed.
“Along with Catholic school families across the state, we are deeply disappointed and angry at the failure to pass an Education Investment Tax Credit, which would have generated needed scholarships to help families afford parochial schools, yeshivas, and other non-public schools, as well as benefited public schools and all teachers,” said conference executive director Richard Barnes.
The legislation would have encouraged donors to contribute to scholarships, for which they would receive credit on their tax returns. The money would be donated by private funders to parochial schools, meaning that no state money would be used.
“This was a proposal where everyone would win,” Cardinal Dolan noted in a June 20 column in the New York Post.
The Education Investment Tax Credit was consistently supported by Governor Anthony Cuomo and a majority of legislators in both houses, saying that passing the bill was a “no brainer.”
In his statement on behalf of the conference, Barnes added that legislators supported the tax credit because it was “of critical importance to the families of our state.”
Cardinal Dolan was hopeful that the bill would pass, saying “eighty-eight members of the Assembly had signed on as co-sponsors” with “overwhelming support in the state Senate.”
Despite apparent support for the bill, state lawmakers denied the Education Investment Tax Credit during their legislative session last week.
“I am frustrated because the governor and state legislators have bypassed multiple opportunities to help these families,” Cardinal Dolan said in response. Barnes added that “the will to fight for passage, to stand up to the public school teachers union, was not there.”
Numerous Catholic schools have closed in recent years because of dwindling enrollment. It was expected that if the bill had passed, more families would have been able to enroll their children in parochial education.
“The EITC would have been a lifeline to our schools,” the New York cardinal said. “The hundreds of thousands of families for whom we have been advocating are right to be disappointed. I know I am.”