It is billed by education activists as historic, and they are asking for readers’ help in getting it through both chambers of the state legislature.
The Education Investment Tax Credit, if enacted, would provide a dollar-for-dollar state tax credit to donors who make contributions to public schools or to scholarship organizations. The program is expected to generate $250 million in its first year and $300 million in the following year.
Half of the funds would be allocated to support organizations that provide tuition scholarships to students attending private schools.
If passed, it would be the first significant help to yeshivah and private school parents in a half-century of advocating for aid to taxpayers who carry the crushing burden of paying for the education of their children in non-public schools.
Rabbi Yehiel Kalish, Agudath Israel’s vice president for development and state relations, sent out an “action alert” Wednesday urging New Yorkers to call their elected officials over the next few weeks to show their support for this bill.
“Here’s the bottom line: If this
bill passes, tens of millions of dollars in tuition relief will be available to parents in our community,” Rabbi Kalish wrote.
While the top leaders of the legislature — Senate Co-Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), Senate Co-Majority Leader Jeffrey Klein (IDC-Bronx) and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver — as well as Gov. Andrew Cuomo, are said to be on board with the bill, the next three weeks are crucial in pushing it across.
March 31 is the deadline to pass a budget in New York state.
“Even supporters [of the bill] like Assemblyman Goldfeder and State Senator Simcha Felder need to hear from you,” pleaded Rabbi Kalish. “They need to hear from their constituents so that when they go to their legislative leaders — Speaker Silver and Senator Skelos — they can show overwhelming support from their communities on this issue.”
For constituents of legislators who have not come out in support of the measure, the alert requests “a well-written and respectful letter or phone call” to let them know that voters care about this issue.
“We have three weeks to get the EITC program included in the budget,” said Rabbi Kalish. “Please contact your legislator today. Please. Do it for your yeshivah, for yourselves, and most importantly, for the children.”
Contact information of some elected officials who represent the Jewish community.
Assembly District 48: Assemblyman Dov Hikind; HikindD@assembly.state.ny.us; Fax:718-436-5734
Assembly District 41: Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein; WeinsteinH @assembly.state.ny.us; Fax: 718-769-4846
Senate District 17: Senator Simcha Felder; Felder@nysenate.gov; Fax: 718-253-2030
Assembly District 27: Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz; SimanowitzM @assembly.state.ny.us; Fax: 718-969-8326
Assembly District 23: Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder; GoldfederP@assembly.state.ny.us; Fax: 718-945-9549