Watch video from the demonstration at https://www.facebook.com/TheLongIslandCatholic
By Sean Dolan
Chanting “Andrew Cuomo, keep your word,” Bishop William Murphy led parents, students and teachers at a demonstration today to express disappointment at Governor Andrew Cuomo for failing to secure the Education Investment Tax Credit proposal in this year’s state budget.
Bishop Murphy joined over 200 teachers and supporters of Catholic Education demonstrating today at the New York State Democratic Convention at the Hilton Huntington Hotel. Despite inclement weather, representatives of nearly every (42 of 43) Catholic elementary school in the Diocese of Rockville Centre peacefully demonstrated along the sidewalk along Route 110 and just outside the Hilton.
Meeting, greeting and thanking demonstrators for coming out to voice disappointment at Governor Cuomo, Bishop Murphy took to the bull horn to make sure his message was getting across to passersby, the media and even those within the hotel.
“We are going to show the Governor today that while we also want good public schools, we want kids to get a great education, he’s got to include us, we cannot be excluded as second class citizens,” Bishop Murphy told the crowd. “We run some of the best schools in all of New York State and we need the help that people want to give to us.”
“We expect the governor to fulfill his promise. We expect the governor to sign the education tax credit bill into law,” he said.
“With the vast majority of our state legislators from all parts of the state supporting the Education Tax Credit, it is difficult to understand why Governor Cuomo failed to secure its inclusion in the state budget, especially knowing that he too supports the proposal,” said Bishop Murphy.
Bishop Murphy added: “The Governor asked the bishops at our last meeting which was more important to us, the money or the principle. We all agreed it is the principle that private and religiously based schools in justice should have available a tax credit for those who support our schools. We will continue to fight for that principle and, form that we will, also in justice, seek to have the funds for education tax credits for all New Yorkers and not just for some.”
“These families have every right to be angry at Governor Cuomo for his failure of leadership on this issue,” said Sr. Joanne Callahan, OSU, superintendent of schools, Diocese of Rockville Centre.
The Education Investment Tax Credit would increase funds in two areas critical to our state’s educational future – donations to public schools, school districts and teacher-driven projects; and scholarships to help low- and middle-income students attend religious and other tuition-based schools. The total increase on donations from this bill would grow to $300 million per year, divided evenly between public school needs and scholarships for students to attend parochial or other private schools.
It would accomplish this by creating a new tax credit for those who make a charitable donation for educational purposes. New York State already provides tax credits for many other purposes, including film and TV production, job creation, economic development and domestic beer brewing.
Low-income and middle-class students would benefit directly from up to $150 million in annual charitable contributions to nonprofit scholarship organizations providing tuition assistance. The new donations for scholarships would make private and parochial education a reality for families seeking new quality educational opportunities and assist those already enrolled who are struggling to afford tuition at schools that best meet their needs.
Additionally, donations to public schools and public school districts would be increased by the same amount – thus making it easier for public schools to enhance their programs without additional reliance on property tax payers or state aid. The bill would also give public school teachers a first-ever New York State income tax credit when they spend their own money on classroom supplies, up to $200. No government funds would flow to private or parochial schools. The legislation had twice passed the State Senate, most recently by a strong bipartisan vote of 55-4, and is supported by nearly two thirds of the members of the Assembly.