Despite Setback, The Fight for Tax Credit Is Not Lost

NEW YORK -

A Brooklyn assemblyman is confident the Assembly will wind up approving a version of the potentially historic education tax credit, despite that chamber’s not including the tuition aid in its budget proposal presented on Tuesday.

Assemblyman Dov Hikind said on Thursday that the measure, which is supported by the GOP Senate and has the approval of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is “still in good shape.”

“Education Investment Tax Credits have remained my number one, number two and number three priority,” Hikind said in a statement. “I can’t put a fine enough point on this issue. Parents in our community deserve this relief, and we’re not going to stop fighting for this until it’s passed.”

As the legislature begins to negotiate a single, final budget, each of the three negotiating partners submitted different proposals for a tax credit, which will be divided into help for public and private schools.

The state Senate wants to allocate $150 million for the first year, to go up to $225 million next year and $300 million in 2018. They would allow donors to an education fund to deduct 90 percent of a contribution from their tax bill.

The governor’s budget would set the amount at $100 million and would not go up in succeeding years. Donors would deduct 75 percent of their scholarship gifts from their tax bill. Cuomo also tied it to lawmakers’ passing the DREAM Act, a $20 million proposal to allow illegal immigrants access to tuition aid. That is seen by some as a “poison pill” since the Senate is adamantly opposed to it.

The Assembly, led by its new Speaker, Carl Heastie of the Bronx, did not include the EITC in its budget. However, Hikind says that based on conversations he had with Heastie and others, the 30-year battle for tuition aid is not over.

“This is a process,” Hikind said. “While I’m disappointed that Education Investment Tax Credits are not part of the Assembly’s proposed budget, it’s still early. I’m confident that we will get this done with Hashem’s help.”

The tuition bill has 76 sponsors in the Assembly, but the Democratic majority has a policy of not bringing a bill for a vote unless there is a majority of Democrats in support.

Both Cuomo and Heastie have previously expressed support for the tax credit. Heastie was even a sponsor of the bill before he was elected Speaker last month. He then withdrew his signature from all bills.