A potentially groundbreaking bill for Jewish education could be passed by the New York State Legislature if enough concerned constituents call their representatives.
“The Education Tax Credit has the potential to deliver millions of dollars in scholarship aid to our Jewish day school families. Similar educational tax credits in other states have proven to provide significant—and much-needed relief—to Jewish day school families,” explained Maury Litwack, director of State Political Affairs for OU Advocacy, the nonpartisan public policy arm of the Orthodox Union.
The Education Tax Credit, officially known as the Education Investment Incentives Act (EIIA), would provide tax credits in return for individual and corporate donations to public schools as well as not-for-profit scholarship granting organizations. Tax credits for donations would reduce a taxpayer’s state tax liability, dollar-for-dollar, for up to 75 percent of what is owed in income or corporate franchise taxes. So far, similar bills, promoted by OU Advocacy, have been enacted in Pennsylvania and Florida.
“The Education Tax Credit is a proven method to infuse Jewish education with millions of dollars,” said Mr. Litwack.
While a form of the bill has passed in the New York State Senate, the New York State Assembly version of the bill is currently stalled in the chamber. OU Advocacy has led several missions with both Jewish and private schools to the state capitol in an effort to persuade legislators to vote on the bill. The bill has strong support from both political parties. The bill in the state Senate is sponsored by Senators Martin J. Golden (R-Brooklyn) and Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn); in the state Assembly, the bill is sponsored by Assembly MemberMichael Cusick(D-Staten Island).
“With a state budget of $142 billion, we can find ways to provide for every student – and if we can’t provide for every student, then we’re all failing,” said Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder (D-Queens), a supporter of the bill.
A confluence of factors make the bill’s passing more likely, including the support of New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo.
“The Education Tax Credit bill has gained tremendous momentum over the past several years,” said Jake Adler, New York Policy Director for OU Advocacy. “With Governor Cuomo’s commitment to the bill, the support from the Senate and a growing amount of support in the Assembly, we are hopeful that 2015 will be the year of the Education Tax Credit.”
With the state budget deadline of April 1 looming, Mr. Litwack called on all Orthodox parents to reach out to their state representatives.
“The number one thing that our allies in the New York State Legislature ask of us is to flood the inboxes of every elected official in Albany,” continued Mr. Litwack. “Only by hearing from their constituents about the importance of the bill to our community, will legislators truly act. Realistically, this lies in the hands of people in the community and their voices.”
“The Education Tax Credit is a lifeline for a community drowning in high costs of tuition,” he concluded. To find out more information about the Education Investment Tax Credit and how you can help ensure it passes, visit the OU’s EITC page www.ouadvocacy.org/eitc.