Gov. Andrew Cuomo included the Education Investment Tax Credit in his 2015 budget proposal Wednesday, pleasing many Catholic leaders who have been advocating for the bill for years. The New York Senate passed the tax credit bill, which allows taxpayers to claim credits for donations to public schools or private scholarships for students attending parochial schools.
Bishop Richard J. Malone released the following statement regarding the Education Investment Tax Credit:
"I am pleased that Governor Cuomo has included the Education Investment Tax Credit in his budget message and the Senate has approved the tax credit bill.
"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. 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.
"The tax credit would stabilize Catholic school enrollment, easing the pressure on tuition, resulting in financial savings to all families.
"The Diocese of Buffalo will continue to be at the forefront of advocacy efforts to get this legislation enacted. It is my hope that the EITC will become law during the current legislative session."
The diocese organized a rally on Niagara Square in downtown Buffalo on May 28, 2014, urging approval of the EITC. The event was attended by hundreds of students, parents and educators, with many holding signs that said, "Gov. Cuomo: Our Families Need Help Too."
On April 13, 2013, more than 10,000 people, mostly Catholic school students, rallied in support of the EITC rally at First Niagara Center in Buffalo. Speakers included Bishop Malone, Sister Carol Cimino, superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Buffalo, students, educators and elected officials.
Following is a statement of Timothy Cardinal Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the New York State Catholic Conference, regarding new developments related to the Education Tax Credit, which will encourage private giving to scholarship-making organizations for low- and middle-income families, as well as for programing in public schools:
"Today is a historic day for education policy in New York State with the inclusion of the Education Tax Credit in Governor Andrew Cuomo's Executive Budget, as well as the state Senate's passage of Senator Martin Golden's tax credit bill earlier in the day. These developments provide the best momentum to date for the eventual enactment of the tax credit, which is supported by an overwhelming majority of both houses of the state Legislature, and would help working and poor families regardless of where their children attend school.
"On behalf of my brother Bishops of New York, I want to personally thank Gov. Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Senators Golden and Simcha Felder, Assembly Member Michael Cusick and all of our allies in the Legislature, in business and in organized labor who have been fighting for years on this issue. We have been told by Democrats and Republicans at the highest level of state government that this tax credit is a 'no brainer,' and we are overjoyed that a clear path toward enactment has been put in place by the Governor and Senate Majority today.
"There were many other items in Governor Cuomo's address today worthy of our comment, which will come in good time. But for today, we want to focus solely on the Education Tax Credit to drive home the point of just how critical its passage is for the future countless children across this state. Expanding educational opportunities is a clear matter of social justice, and we are so grateful for today's actions."
The Catholic Conference represents New York State's Bishops in matters of public policy.