With an April 1 deadline approaching to finalize the New York state budget, Western New York Catholics at all levels continue to push for passage of legislation that would include an Education Tax Credit to help families defray the cost of Catholic education.
Bishop Richard J. Malone, bishop of Buffalo, joined bishops from across the state on Tuesday to meet with Governor Andrew Cuomo in Albany. Cuomo has been in support of the legislation, and the NY State Senate has already passed one version of the bill, but it has not been able to gain enough traction in the Assembly. Some members of the Democrat-led Assembly have concerns that this may put public schools at a tax disadvantage, despite the fact that the bill also includes a provision to increase funding for public schools by $20 million.
The legislation, if passed, would provide tuition tax credits of up to $500 per student per year to the parents of qualifying Catholic school students and increase the level and number of available scholarships from organizations like Bison Fund. Bishop Malone sees it as a way to help level the playing field. "The tax credit would stabilize Catholic school enrollment, easing the pressure on tuition, resulting in financial savings to all families."
Sister Carol Cimino, SSJ, superintendent of Catholic Schools, joined a contingent of advocates who also went to Albany this week to encourage members of the Assembly to consider including the legislation in the upcoming budget. Among the group that made the trip to Albany were two alumni from Notre Dame High School in Batavia, James Cultrara '81, Director of Education for the NYS Catholic Conference, and Jennifer Tomm Petosa, Principal of Most Holy Rosary School in Syracuse.
"We know too well the increasing financial burdens placed on families with children in Catholic schools, and families who want to send their children to Catholic schools," said Bishop Malone." Enactment of the education investment tax credit is a game changer, providing families the option of a Catholic or private school education for their children."