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Monday, April 03, 2006

Tax Credit Response

There's a piece in the NY Sun today (subscription required) that quotes from a letter blasting Shelly Silver for his lack of support on the tax credits. The open letter, put out by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, the spiritual leader of the Diocese of Brooklyn, spares nothing in his harsh asessment of the way Shelly handled the proposal:
In a strongly worded letter sent to lawmakers on Friday, Nicholas DiMarzio, the spiritual leader of the Diocese of Brooklyn, accused Sheldon Silver of weakening the Democratic process in the state by opposing tuition tax credits.

He also said Mr. Silver personally insulted him when the lawmaker suggested last week that part of the reason he opposes tuition tax credits is because he suspects that parochial schools will raise tuition to take advantage of the tax break to parents of schoolchildren.

"I write to express my profound disappointment in the decision of the Senate and the Assembly to not include Education Tax Credits in this year's budget," Bishop DiMarzio wrote in a letter addressed to all of the state's Assembly members and senators.

Responding to an article in The New York Sun quoting Mr. Silver as saying that he doesn't trust that religious schools would freeze their tuition if the state handed out tuition tax credits, Bishop DiMarzio wrote, "I take personal umbrage at Speaker Silver's remarks. ... The Speaker is well aware, from a meeting held on February 14 with Cardinal Egan and I, along with Jewish and Independent School leaders," that they "pledged precisely not to raise tuition in our schools in response to passage of Education Tax Credits."

Bishop DiMarzio's letter articulates the Catholic Church's position on the issue of tuition tax credits in much starker terms than previous public statements. After the Assembly last month put out its own proposal for an unrestricted tax credit, Cardinal Egan and Bishop DiMarzio refrained from making any critical comments about the plan.

In his letter, the bishop cites the support that the governor's plan has received from the heads of the Brooklyn and Queens Democratic organizations and from Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and other lawmakers. "How then is it possible that you will allow your leadership to undermine our democratic process?" he wrote.

...In the letter, the bishop argues instead that a tax plan that helps parents pay private school tuition would "recognize the many sacrifices of immigrant families that send their children to non-public schools in the hope for a safe and better future for their children."

The bishop's letter arrives on the desks of lawmakers during a critical point in the budget process. Mr. Pataki has indicated that he will demand from lawmakers that they change the Legislature's tax credit plan so that it requires parents to use the money on educational expenses.

The letter puts additional pressure on both the Assembly and the Senate to address the governor's concerns. The governor's plan has support from New York City lawmakers in both houses, many of whom come from districts with a high percentage of Catholic, Jewish, and low-income voters.

I am personally a supporter of the Tax Credit proposal, and thought it was a very reasonable and well thought out way to get the topic of education choice on the table (and into the budget). I was disappointed by Mr. Silver's lack of support for the proposal, and his siding with the Teacher's Union on this issue. Contrast Bishop DiMarzio wording to that in a letter the Orthodox Union distributed at its annual dinner last night (click image to enlarge):

As we would like to see the final product closer to being tied specifically to family spending on educational services, the OU will be continuing our advocacy efforts this week and we ask YOU to join us by taking action. Please call your State Senator (Senate Operator: 518-455-2800) and Assemblymember (Assembly Operator: 518-455-4100) on Monday, April 3, to ask them to support tax credits specifically tied to family spending on education. Please call Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver as well .

It remains to be seen whether asking nicely will get the OU, and us, anywhere. But I give Bishop DiMarzio a lot of credit for saying it like it is.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

because he suspects that parochial schools will raise tuition to take advantage of the tax break to parents of schoolchildren

I'm opposed to it for the very same reason.

4:31 PM  
Blogger Orthonomics said...

Al gore- The Catholic Church is extremely dedicated to keeping tuition down. I plan to write about some of their really creative ideas in my blog in the near future. (Too much to write about).

And, since the tax credits plan benefits the public students also, it is ridiculous to focus on the fact that some schools may (or may not) raise tuition. That is just a weak cop-out.

5:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just got my tuition statement for next year. Apparently I am receiving a scholarship. Basically the end result is a doable amount, the scholarship number is for them to keep a higher base and offer everyone a scholarship to reduce the cost, so they can charge more to those they want to charge as much as possible.
I don't trust the yeshivas not to somehow take this credit into affect when they calculate tuition. They won't call it a tuition increase, They just won't offer as big a "scholarship" as the prior year.

6:03 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

I'm opposed to it for the very same reason.

Ok. lets address this point by point.

1.Shelly Silver expressed worry that parochial schools would take the tax credit as an opportunity to raise tuition. Their leaders swore they would not. Still, he used that as an excuse - knowing full well it would not occur.

2. The argument is not well thought out anyway. Shelly's tax credit is going to ALL parents. Why in the world, if Yeshivas and parochial schools are so mercenary, would they not raise tuition to reflect Shelly's tax credit??? If they look at money in the hands of parents as simply something to get their money-grubbing hands on (in your scenario), then why should the distinction between a tuition tax credit and a uncategorized tax credit make a difference.

6:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. Good rebuttal. I actually had been convinced that it was a bad idea becuase Yeshivas would raise tuition. But what IS to stop them from raising tuition by amount of Silver's tax credit. Still not sure I like education tax credits, but Silver's credit is clearly ot the answer.

6:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am opposed to the tax credit for a diferrant reason... we are in a friendly country as jews, for the first time in a thousand years... primarily , this is because religion is a side show in the us. in catholic countries we got pogroms and blood libels etc PRIMARLY INCITED BY THE CHURCH, AND MORE RECENTLY BY MULLAS

Remember, for every jewish child getting a tax credit, there are 50 nonjewish children going to a school where they are taught we killed their god
so, we may get 500 dollars per child, but make sure you have a packed bag for your child for the day he has to flee

8:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

why should the distinction between a tuition tax credit and a uncategorized tax credit make a difference.

Why is much of the Orthodox world so fired up to get this credit? I don't see rallies or advertisements to this extent in support for uncategorized tax credits.

10:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But what IS to stop them from raising tuition by amount of Silver's tax credit.

Nothing, it's only limited by their imagination.

In my community, many of us contribute to a fund to help each other with tuition. My daughter's school has recently started to receive checks each month -- which amount to nearly $200K a year from this fund. Guess what? Tuition is still going up this fall. Not only that, but if you're too poor to afford tuition, the school requires the father to go out in the community to beg for money to cover the difference. Nice!

11:07 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

I don't see rallies or advertisements to this extent in support for uncategorized tax credits.

The Orthodox world is fired up for education tax credits because the linkage with education is what is getting everyone excited. People like the idea of education choice. The proposal was a start down that road.

11:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just got home and Tipper tells me that the JUF in our community is going to give each school $900 per student -- yet the minimum tuition is up 38% -- Kaching!

Still and all, I hope all the tuition difficulties work out for y'all in New York.

1:00 AM  
Blogger and so it shall be... said...

"But I give Bishop DiMarzio a lot of credit for saying it like it is."

And I give Shelly Silver credit for saying it like it is, too.

8:01 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

And I give Shelly Silver credit for saying it like it is, too.

Well, of course, I think he's wrong.

8:05 AM  
Blogger Orthonomics said...

Al Gore- I feel your pain. You should demand a complete financial accounting and tell your friends to do the same.

Chances are there isn't that much that could be cleaned up, but the schools should know they are being watched.

That said, I still support tax credits.

8:09 AM  
Blogger Charlie Hall said...

The OU letter would have been a much better thing to put in the Jewish Press than this:


This essay, by a leader of Teach NYS, was a call to arms for the Right Wing rather than a realistic attempt to get a tuition tax credit which might have had a chance. I bet Speaker Silver got an earful from his caucus, asking him why they should support the cause of a group whose public spokesperson runs a red meat campaign against the relatives of a lot of their constitutents! See my comments on the letter:


Regarding keeping schools from raising tuition, I have a solution to that problem if we can get rid of the Blaine amendment and will post it on my blog within a few days. It has worked in three New England states for independent schools. You will see, however, that our schools might not accept it.

Under the circumstances, the general tax credit may have been the best we can get.

10:04 AM  
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