The Complicated Politics of a School-Donation Tax Credit

04 Mar 2015

Of all the plot lines in the 2015 budget process, the fight over a school-donation tax credit may turn out to be the most complicated.

The Catholic Church and a broad swath of other religious and community organizations have built support over several years for a controversial tax credit that would incentivize donations to private school scholarship funds and public schools. The credit is closer than it’s ever been to reality, as Governor Andrew Cuomo has included $100 million to fund it in his executive budget proposal.

But Cuomo also linked the credit in his budget to the Dream Act, which would allow undocumented immigrants access to state tuition assistance for college. He made passage of each proposal contingent on the other.

A bill that would establish a slightly different version of the tax credit than what Cuomo dictated in his budget has passed the State Senate repeatedly, where Republicans have been among its loudest proponents. The powerful majority conference, however, opposes the Dream Act; when asked early this year if he would consider the compromise, G.O.P. leader Dean Skelos, of Long Island, said the Dream Act was a “no-go.”

Maury Litwack, director of state political affairs for the Orthodox Union, a Jewish community organization for which the tax credit is the top legislative priority, said Jewish parents “don’t really have a choice in education. They need to provide their kids with a Jewish education, and that comes at a price. … These programs are successfully implemented in over a dozen states around the country, and they’ve proven both a lifeline for middle income and lower income families whose parents struggle to pay the cost of tuition.”

Full story at Capital New York.

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.