A New York rally attended by over 1,500 Staten Island Catholic school educational advocates, elected officials, community leaders and others lobbied support for the proposed Educational Investment Tax Credit in the state.
The proposed Education Investment Tax Credit would offer a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for donations made to public, charter or private school scholarship organizations in an effort to increase investments in education. According to several speakers at the rally, tax credits exist for numerous other things, and that schools should be added to the list. “There are tax credits for the film industry, beer production and green construction. Now we need it for the education of our students!” said Michael Coppotelli, associate superintendent of Schools at Archdiocese of New York.
The lead sponsor of the bill, assemblyman Michael Cusick, said that although it has been hard work to get to this point, they are at the critical moment and it will take a team effort in order to ensure the bill gets passed this year.
He went on to say that while many believe the bill is merely another way to introduce a voucher system, he argues that the system in fact supports all education, including public, Catholic, and private.
“The language in the bill says the money goes 50 percent to public schools, 50 percent to private schools and for the scholarships, but it also helps out people and encourages donations,” said Cusick.
State Senator Andrew Lanza said that while the bill would save the state billions, it is truly meant to offer parents who attended Catholic school the opportunity to give their children the same opportunities.
Although Governor Cuomo supports the legislature, Lanza has expressed his disappointment over Cuomo linking the bill within the state budget to the passage of the DREAM Act, which offers state funding to illegal immigrants in an effort to afford them the ability to attend college.
“I believe that piece of legislation is fundamentally unfair,” said Lanza of the DREAM Act. He said residents need to reach out to the governor to ask him, “to allow this measure to be voted and considered purely on the merits of this legislation. Let’s not bog it down or create more reasons why it would not pass,” he said garnering applause.
Supporters of the bill who attended the rally argued that they had the opportunities they had were due to their Catholic school education. Others added that parents spend their savings in an effort to be able to send their children to Catholic school, and while the teachers already go above and beyond to help their students succeed, the bill would help teachers and parents alike to be able to offer even more opportunities to all students.