JAKE SWENSON started as FFRF’s first graphic designer in 2015. He was born in Rockford, Illinois, and graduated with a degree in fine art from the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point. He enjoys music, cycling, photography, traveling, and coffee.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced new legislation this Tuesday, May 12, that would offer up to $50 million annually in tax credits for donors who contribute to scholarship funds for private and religious school tuition.
Scholarship tax credit programs such as the one proposed by Cuomo have become a model for states that unwisely wish to subsidize private and religious education, particularly in states with a constitutional ban on school vouchers. These tax credit programs are yet another dubious "school choice" scheme that, like school vouchers, siphon funding from the public school system in support of private religious schools. Governor Cuomo's proposal creates a backdoor voucher system that would encourage donations to pay for private religious school tuition.
Education tax credits primarily benefit religious schools (which make up the majority of private schools). This bill is a huge priority for religious communities, particularly Orthodox Jewish and Roman Catholic. Cuomo even campaigned in support of education tax credits this week with the state's top Catholic leader, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who described the governor's proposal as "logical and so compelling." Many Catholic school administrators undoubtedly view the education tax credit program as a "Hail Mary" that they hope will stabilize declining Catholic school enrollment.
The proposed law is detrimental to New York's public schools. Tell your legislators, particularly members of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, that tax credits should not be used to finance religious instruction. Instead, tax money should be invested in the public school system to ensure that quality secular education is available to all New York students.
For more information about vouchers and tax credit programs, visit FFRF's Voucher FAQ: Dispelling the Myth of "School Choice."
Please phone and email members of the New York State Assembly Ways and Means Committee about this important issue.
Personalize your statement if possible, or feel free to cut and paste wording below. Mention if you are a constituent, a New York citizen, and if you have children in New York state schools.
[I am writing as a constituent, a New York citizen and taxpayer/with children in New York public schools.] I strongly oppose the Education Investment Incentives Act (including A02551 and S1976-2015), or any program to give tax breaks for donations to organizations that fund private religious education.
Tax credits should not be siphoned from public coffers and used to incentivize the financing of religious instruction. Instead, tax money should be invested in the public school system to ensure that quality secular education is available to all New York students.
Please vote against this unnecessary bill that would be disastrous for public education.