OU Advocacy-Teach NYS, the non-partisan public policy arm of the Orthodox Union, applauds Governor Andrew Cuomo for advancing the Education Investment Tax Credit (EITC) by including it in today’s joint State of the State and Executive Budget speech, and the State Senate for passing EITC as a stand-alone bill earlier today.
The top priority during the 2015 Legislative Session for OU Advocacy-Teach NYS is passing the EITC bill – which could provide an unprecedented amount of funding for New York’s non-public schools – and ensuring that the program benefits the broadest swath of New York’s schoolchildren.
The EITC, also known as the Education Investment Incentives Act, would provide tax credits in return for corporate donations for education. Donations can be made to scholarship organizations to award scholarships for children to attend private schools and public schools, including non-profit organizations that support public schools. The governor’s proposal includes a total sum of $100 million for the EITC fund.
State Senators Martin Golden and Simcha Felder have long been advocates of the EITC bill.
“This legislation will advance New York State’s interest in providing the highest quality of education to all students. As we continue to look for ways to reduce the tax burden on New Yorkers, and at the same time improve education, this legislation appropriately promotes charitable giving to our schools and students. The Senate has been out in front of this issue, having passed this bill with an overwhelming majority twice, and including it in our one house budget last year. I urge the State Assembly to now pass this bill so as to allow education, and thus the future of our State, to prosper,” said Senator Golden.
Senator Felder added, “New York’s children deserve the best education possible, whether it’s desperately needed educational materials for public or charter school kids, or alleviating the financial burden for tuition paying families. Ultimately this bill will allow us to make a collective effort to better the educational opportunities for all of our children, by empowering everyone to put some of their tax dollars directly to this cause.
Jake Adler, New York director of policy for OU Advocacy-Teach NYS, noted that the OU is grateful to the entire State Senate, particularly Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, for their unwavering support of the EITC bill. “With the passage of EITC by the Senate and inclusion in the Governor’s budget proposal, the EITC is closer to passing than ever before,” said Adler.
“If enacted, New York’s education tax credit program would be one of the nation’s largest new programs to support non-public schools. With the largest Jewish day school community in the country here in New York, the tax credit program could grow to provide millions of dollars for scholarships to our community’s middle-income families,” Mr. Adler said. “We will work with state legislators to ensure that the EITC takes the needs of New York’s Jewish day school community into account.”
Maury Litwack, OU Advocacy’s director of state political affairs, noted that OU Advocacy has worked successfully to pass similar education tax credit programs in other states. “Pennsylvania’s education tax credit program has yielded millions of dollars in scholarship funds and created real lifelines for Jewish day schools over the past seven years. Florida’s tax credit scholarship program serves more than 67,000 low-income students and provides scholarships to hundreds of middle-income Jewish families,” he said.
“If New York adopts the EITC program in New York, the sheer magnitude of the program could set a precedent and trigger the adoption of this type of program in state legislatures nationwide, providing better access to educational opportunity for schoolchildren across the country,” Mr. Litwack added.
In addition to EITC, other budget priorities for OU Advocacy-Teach NYS this year include full funding for the Comprehensive Attendance Policy (CAP) and the Mandated Services Reimbursement (MSR) program, repayment of previous CAP arrears and expanded Universal Pre-K.
CAP and MSR are two state initiatives that provide funding for anti-truancy programs and mandated services required by private schools. Since the CAP and MSR programs were created, they have been continually underfunded by the state. OU Advocacy-Teach NYS has worked with state legislators for the past several years to ensure that the state funds these two programs appropriately. Fiscal year 2014-15 was the first year the state fully funded the MSR program and created a payment plan to pay down its balance of arrears for the years it underfunded the CAP program.
“We will continue to work with New York legislators and the Administration to ensure that the state budget benefits all of New York’s schoolchildren – regardless of where they go to school,” said Mr. Adler.