New York State Capitol

Plenty of blame to go around for demise of education tax credit

According to state Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox (in a letter to this and other news media), “Andrew Cuomo  let down New York’s school children by abandoning the education tax credit, even after he promised to pass it this session.”

The regular state legislative session wrapped up at the Capitol last week in the usual flurry of deal making, but no deal was struck to pass this measure, which Cox accurately says would provide “an incentive to private citizens to make donations to public and independent schools and is widely supported” in the Legislature.
The New York State Catholic conference also is not happy, saying passage of the credit “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.” The governor and Legislature, according to the Catholic Conference, have failed to stand up for the parents of students at parochial schools, “who save the state billions of dollars a year by sacrificing to provide their children with a quality Catholic education.”

The politics, though, are a little complicated. The fiercest opponents do tend to be Democrats, and the New York State United Teachers union. That’s more or less who gets the blame from the New York Post.

But when Cox cites his “experience as a founder and former chair of both SUNY’s Charter School Committee and the Student Sponsor Partners organization, which supports and mentors inner-city high-school students in parochial schools,” it gives me pause. Charter schools, which were authorized in New York by Republican  Gov. George Pataki, who got legislators to go along by giving them a pay raise,  have tended to hurt parochial schools — unlike vouchers, which would help them, and which have been adopted in some states but not this one.  Charters provide a free alternative to regular public schools, luring away some parents who might otherwise pay for private education, which is one reason why many  Catholic schools have closed across the state. Further, Republican as well as Democratic legislators rejected a bid earlier this year to link the tax credit to an immigration billwhich would have been a reasonable and creative compromise.

As usual when considering Albany’s usual dysfunction, there is plenty of blame to go around. The Catholic Conference and other backers of this credit are beginning to seem like Charlie Brown in Peanuts running up to kick a football that Lucy keeps snatching away — although a special ed bill they supported which just affects New York City did make it through.

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Reporter Bob Conner has worked 21 years in various positions at the Gazette of Schenectady, and before that four years as a reporter at the Glens Falls Post-Star. He won two first-place writing awards from the New York Associated Press Association for newspapers with circulation between 50,000 and 250,000. Bob has a Phi Beta Kappa bachelor’s degree in journalism from New York University, and an associate’s degree in chemical dependency counseling from HVCC. He is a published author and is currently writing a historical novel about the last four months in the life of Ulysses S.Grant


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