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NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE)

Cuomo’s Unconstitutional Education Tax Credit Scheme Diverts Funding From Public Schools and Shifts More Tax Burden Onto Middle Class Taxpayers

New York  State Allies for Public Education, a statewide coalition of more than fifty parent and advocacy groups, reject Governor’s Cuomo’s tax-credit scheme clearly linked to ALEC model privatization legislation to benefit wealthy donors under the guise of promoting “parental choice” while leaving middle class taxpayers to foot the bill for tax obligations diverted to fund private and religious schools.

If enacted, Cuomo’s tax-credit proposal will deny precious resources for underfunded public schools throughout New York State.  Between freezing Foundation Aid at 2008 levels and not fully restoring the temporary financial-crisis driven Gap Elimination funds, New York State is underfunding its court-mandated obligation to provide a sound basic education for ALL children of New York. To echo the words of the Journal News Editorial Board from May 29, 2015, “‘Parental choice’ tax credit lets big donors cash in, as the state continues to squelch on its public school commitment.”

Taxpayers and clergy from around the state reject this tax scheme and see it as a trampling on New York State’s Constitution which prohibits public taxpayer dollars for private education and schools where religious doctrine is taught.  Recently, the Reform Jewish Voice of New York State sent a letter of opposition to the legislature stating, “A central principle of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause is that members of particular faiths, and not the government, should fund religious institutions.”

Jeanette Deutermann, a leader of Long Island Opt Out in Nassau County said, “This is yet another underhanded attack by the Governor on our public schools.  If he really wanted to help improve the quality of education, he would properly fund our schools and get out of the business of dictating what standards, tests, and teacher evaluation systems they must use.  Nearly every parent’s first choice is a good neighborhood public school, and yet the Governor’s proposals undermine this choice in every possible way.”

Nancy Cauthen, a parent from Change the Stakes in New York City, said “As evidenced by the latest polls, Cuomo’s approval ratings have been dropping sharply.  If he wants to regain voters’ confidence, he should start looking after the needs of our public school children and not his hedge fund contributors, who are eager to derive profit from privatizing the system.  Our legislators should see this proposal for what it really is: a reverse “Robin Hood” scheme that takes money from our already underfunded public schools and gives it to the wealthy charter school operators who donated to Cuomo’s campaign.”

Chris Cerrone, a school board member from Erie County, said, “Our state government should not fund private education at the expense of local taxpayers.  This tax-credit proposal would prove an additional financial burden to already underfunded school districts, who have to pay additional costs for transportation, nursing, and special education services for all those students who attend private schools.”

NYSAPE demands that the Assembly and Senate reject Cuomo’s unconstitutional  Education Tax Credit scheme that would drain precious resources from public schools, further harming children in need, and burden middle class taxpayers, while benefiting wealthy donors who want to privatize our schools. 

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