BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Governor Andrew Cuomo teamed up with Cardinal Timothy Dolan to try and make it easier for low income parents to send their children to non-public schools.
They addressed a packed community center in Eggertsville, where Catholic school students held up signs saying “We Count Too,” and “Catholic Schools = Good Citizens.”
The Education Investment Tax Credit would encourage donations to nonprofit scholarship organizations.
It would also give tax breaks to teachers at private and public schools who pay for supplies out of their own pockets.
Governor Cuomo said it is very hard for people who are paying taxes for public schools, to pay tuition for private or religious schools.
He says the tax credits would give parents “real options,’ while also keeping religious schools open.
Cardinal Dolan said, “You love your schools. You appreciate your schools. You don’t want them to close. You want more kids to be able to come there.”
Pressure has been mounting on the governor for a year to back the tax credit proposal.
Last May in Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone said ” It seems as though the governor is kicking Catholic school children to the curb.”
On Tuesday the Bishop shared the stage with the governor and Cardinal Dolan, and declared “We don’t want to close any more of these schools.” Last year ten Catholic schools closed in Western New York.
Eileen Maruscak, a parent and teacher at Catholic Academy of West Buffalo, said she could use help paying for tuition. “It’s going up each year,” she said.
While the vast majority of the audience supported tax credits, Kathleen Chandler held a hand-written sign saying, “Full Funding Public Schools.”
She believes tax credits would divert public funds to private schools at a time when she says public schools are underfunded.
“They talk about Catholic schools closing. No one mentioned that they’re getting ready to close Buffalo public schools. Hand them over for free to charter companies,” she said.
The governor’s alliance with Cardinal Dolan on this issue could be a powerful force this time around.
The Education Investment Tax Credit has passed the New York State Senate and is now awaiting action in the Assembly.