Appearing before a Joint Legislative Budget hearing in Albany on Feb. 15, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of New York, urged members of the state Senate and Assembly to give parents of Catholic and independent school students some tax relief.
"These families are shouldering the dual burden of taxes to support public schools and tuition to support their own children's education," the archbishop said. "Why can't they get some of their own tax money back to help support their own children?" Archbishop Dolan said New York can no longer afford to ignore these schools, which save taxpayers $8 billion a year. "If you continue to support only public schools, including charter schools, instead of all our children, then you will only exacerbate the fiscal crisis you are desperately trying to resolve, since the data clearly shows that we educate our children better for half the cost."
Joining the archbishop was James Cultrara, director for education at the New York State Catholic Conference.
In his remarks, Archbishop Dolan also called on the state to pay Catholic and independent schools $270 million in delinquent Mandated Services and Comprehensive Attendance Policy reimbursements. To fill the gap from that lost revenue, he said some schools have had to raise tuition while others have had to close.
"We recognize that the current fiscal situation will make it difficult for the state to satisfy its legal obligation," he said. "Nonetheless, it is imperative that you begin to do so."
Archbishop Dolan also urged state lawmakers to ensure that a full-time nurse is available for every public, independent and religious school that needs one and the state needs to increase Academic Intervention Services funding, "so that, like public schools, our schools are able to provide these services to our children who are most in need.
"I stand with you in support of our public schools. All I'm asking is that our support be for all our kids, whether they're in government or independent schools."
The New York State Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in the Empire State.
Read Archbishop Dolan's statement