Cardinal Timothy Dolan came to Albany, New York in a continued push for a $150 million package of tax credits, which would include $50 million for private school donors.
Head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, Dolan met with both Assembly and State members in separate lunch meetings held by Governor Andrew Cuomo at the state capitol with the hopes of gaining support for the measure.
"First of all, we've got a splendidly diverse coalition of people — liberals, conservatives, Republicans, Democrats, labor, management, upstate, downstate — who are passionate about this," Dolan said. "Every ethnic group, every religious group. Catholics, evangelical, protestants, Jews, atheists. Secondly, it's going to help our kids. All kids in all schools."
A large amount of the money, $70 million, would be placed toward a $500 tax credit for parents of children who attend private school if the parents make less than $60,000 per year, according to Glenn Blain for The Daily News. An additional $50 million would create a tax credit for donors of pre-approved private schools, which includes parochial schools. In all, 75% of donations up to $1 million would be able to be written off.
The bill would also allow for a $200 tax credit for teachers who purchase school supplies with their own money.
While the bill is receiving support from the Republican-led Senate, the New York State United Teachers union has strongly opposed the move, arguing that it merely gives money away to rich donors. A group called Hedge Clippers has made the most noise in terms of opposition of the bill, suggesting that it will mainly benefit the wealthy.
The opposition has caused the bill to stall in the state Assembly, although after the lunch meetings Dolan said he was optimistic that the bill could pass before legislators end their current session on June 17.
"I found them to be very enlightening, I found them to be very civil, I found them to be very constructive and helpful," Dolan told reporters. "So I sure enjoyed it and benefited from it, and from what the participants were kind enough to say, so were they. So, alleluia."
Dolan went on to say that he told his opponents that the idea of tax credits feeding the rich was incorrect, and that in fact, they would benefit poor children in the state, writes Kyle Hughes for The Saratogian.
For the most part, the tax credit would offer a break to low income families whose children attend private schools, cover out-of-pocket expenses for teachers, and provide scholarships for poor students and donations for public schools.