Editorial Comment: Shortchanging New York’s Children

Down to the wire, they fought tirelessly for a piece of legislation that would have been a “game changer” to many in our community. Though the budget agreement reached in Albany over the weekend didn’t end up including the crucially important, Education Investment Tax Credit (EITC), our community owes a deep debt of gratitude to those who did all they possibly could to try to make it happen.

State Senators Simcha Felder and Marty Golden co-sponsored and worked indefatigably to further the bill that would have provided a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for charitable giving for educational purposes — including scholarship funds. The leaders of the State Senate, Republican Conference Leader, Senator Dean G. Skelos and Independent Democrat Conference Leader Senator Jeffrey A. Klein, showed true leadership as well as a genuine understanding of our community in giving this bill their unstinting support.

Leading askanim and communal organizations pushed as hard as they could, and thousands of parents called and wrote letters to try to impress upon the members of the legislature the importance of this bill. They all deserve our deepest thanks.

Carefully tailored to insure it benefits both students attending public education entities as well as private schools, the proposed bill would have helped New Yorkers from all sectors.

While it wasn’t a voucher program or even an actual tuition credit, EITC would have been a significant step that would have helped bring in a desperately need infusion of many millions of dollars in private and corporate donations to pay for scholarships for needy students in New York.

Parents whose children attend parochial and private schools pay the same taxes as public school parents, and trying to offer them some relief is a matter of basic fairness.

We are deeply disappointed that the New York State Assembly and the Governor declined to go along with this most important and reasonable proposal.  The state was generous in allocating a whopping $1.1billion in additional spending for public schools — but when it comes to private and parochial schools their priorities changed course.

We hope that this setback is only a temporary one, and next year, the heroic efforts spearheaded by Senators Felder and Golden and other legislators will ultimately be successful as they continue to champion the legitimate requests of a significant segment of their constituents.