Good morning and thank you for being here ... it is important that our voices are heard not only on this public square, but we must, we must be heard all the way to the halls of the State capitol in Albany: the time for approval of the Education Investment Tax Credit is NOW - it's that simple.
We are here to talk about promises made, and promises broken.
I was in the room with Cardinal Timothy Dolan and my brother bishops from across New York State when Governor Andrew Cuomo looked us in the eye on March 18 and assured us that as part of the budget process, this critical piece of legislation would be enacted, providing much-needed financial support to private and public schools. The promise was made right there and then.
But when the final budget was approved, the Education Investment Tax Credit was nowhere to be seen. We still have not been given an answer as to why this happened.
To say that we were disappointed would be a major understatement. We feel as if Governor Cuomo is kicking Catholic school children to the curb. He is treating families in Catholic schools and families who want to be in Catholic schools as second-class citizens.
What adds to our disappointment is that Governor Cuomo himself attended Catholic schools - elementary and high school.
The schools he attended are still open, thankfully for the students who can attend them and get the great education they provide. But so many more Catholic schools are closed and closing. In Buffalo, 10 schools are closing next month.
With the Education Investment Tax Credit, we can greatly lessen the need for future school restructuring; in Buffalo, Western New York and across New York State.
It's time for him to show leadership on an issue that could help so many families in Buffalo and across New York State. He needs to pass the Education Investment Tax Credit now!
Here's what you can do: We need your help. Call your state Assembly member and Senator. Tell them you want them to push for the Education Investment Tax Credit. Tell them you want them to step up - as so many have already - and to say they won't leave Albany this year without it.
And I'm asking you to call Governor Cuomo and his new running mate, former Congresswoman Kathy Hochul. Tell them that if they really support Buffalo, if they really want to help Western New York, they'll insist the Education Tax Credit become law this year.
Governor Cuomo is a powerful man. He can do it if he wants to. He can lift up everyone. He can make the Education Investment Tax Credit a reality.
Now is the time for him to act. It's time for him to keep his word to the Bishops and the tens of thousands of families who depend on Catholic education.
Governor Cuomo, keep your word. Repeat after me: Governor Cuomo, keep your word.
Thank you and God bless you all.