As the Legislative session concluded in Albany, N.Y., Gov. Andrew Cuomo called it “a very productive week where we accomplished several of our top priorities that will truly make New York a better state.” He singled out agreements on a package of bills to combat the state’s growing heroin, opioid and prescription drug abuse epidemic and also legislation to establish a comprehensive medical marijuana program for New York State.
But the New York State Catholic Conference chided Cuomo and the legislature for failing to provide tax credits to people who donate to private school scholarship agencies.
Catholic leaders had been led to believe the proposal would part of the state budget process. When it wasn’t, they proposed that it be taken up in the final weeks of the session. The votes apparently were in place to support the measure, but the Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver bowed to pressure from the public school teachers’ union and would not allow the bill to the floor for a vote.
Following is a statement from Richard E. Barnes, executive director of the Catholic Conference:
“Along with Catholic school families across the state, we are deeply disappointed and angry at the failure to pass an Education Investment Tax Credit, which would have generated needed scholarships to help families afford parochial schools, yeshivas and other non-public schools, as well as benefitted public schools and all teachers.
Considered a ‘No Brainer’
“We have consistently heard from Gov. Cuomo and a majority of legislators in both houses that they supported the bill, that it was a ‘no brainer,’ and that it was of critical importance to the families of our state. Dozens of labor unions and other organizations signed on in support, many of them appearing with Cardinal Dolan and the New York State Bishops at news conferences in New York City and Albany.
“But, in the end, the will to fight for passage, to stand up to the public school teachers’ unions, was not there. The Bishops of New York State will continue to discuss this failure of leadership throughout the coming months, informing Catholic school families about this missed opportunity and the failure of our leaders to stand up for them, who save the state billions of dollars a year by sacrificing to provide their children with a quality Catholic education.”