School Tax Credit Update
I noted in my earlier post on this topic that NY Attorney General Elliot Spitzer seemed to come out against the new tax credit proposal presented in Tuesday's budget. I also noted that he seemed to have been completely ignorant of any of the details of the actual proposal. (Good staff there, Eliot!) Evidently, since yesterday, he decided to take out the time to peruse the details of the actual proposal - or, rather, his staff took the time to brief him on a topic that is as apparently trivial to Spitzer as the proposed budget for the state in which he is the leading gubernatorial candidate. Surprisingly, he completely reversed himself on the issue, and came out in favor of the plan. From a press release issued today by the NY AG's office:
Governor Pataki this week proposed education tax credits for lower- income families living in school districts with failing schools.
In response to a question from a reporter yesterday about providing government aid to non-public schools, I cautioned that state government must be careful when it devises such programs because of potential constitutional problems. These comments should not be construed to imply that I believe that there are such problems in Governor Pataki’s proposal, or that I am opposed to education tax credits.We'll let slide Spitzer's gaffe of erroneously saying that the details haven't yet been released because we're so pleased about the fact that the AG's office is on board with this proposal. This latest development will probably quash much of the talk of the lack of constitutionality of this proposal. And possibly pave the way for more of such initiatives that will help the Orthodox community with its growing tuition crisis.
In fact, I support the idea of education tax credits. Moreover, I have long advocated for finding constitutional ways to increase the assistance that the state provides to children in non-public schools. In 2002, I convened a task force that released a report outlining specific proposals to accomplish this goal.
I have not seen the details of Governor Pataki's proposal because they have not yet been released.
It appears to offer tax credits to aid parents who seek to expand their childrens' school choice or to supplement their childrens' education via tutoring or after-school programs. That is a promising approach.
While most of the benefits provided by the Governor’s proposal would go to parents whose children are educated in the public schools, the state’s first obligation must be to achieve a resolution of the CFE litigation, and to provide the appropriate and necessary funding to the public schools.
I believe that increasing public school funding and providing financial relief to parents of all schoolchildren should be education priorities this year, and I look forward to being part of the discussion on both of these initiatives.