Thursday, January 19, 2006

Rally for Tuition Relief

From the OU:

Dear Friends,

The Jewish Education Community is urging your participation in a rally for tuition tax credits in Albany on February 14, 2006 as we join a wide coalition called TEACH NYS in this effort. The soaring costs of yeshiva and day school education have reached the crisis point, placing an enormous burden on families in our communities. This rally is intended to urge the New York State legislature to support and pass a tuition tax credit measure that will help families. We applaud the proposal just announced by NYS Governor George Pataki, as part of his new budget proposal, to create a state tax credit of educational instruction expenses. The importance of attending this rally is greater than ever.

We are urging synagogue, yeshiva, and day school parents to turn out in great numbers on February 14. Students in Grade 7 and up will also be participating. Synagogue and school groups wishing to have the opportunity to meet with elected officials after the rally can contact for arrangements...

Please mobilize your membership to come to this rally - your participation will ensure the success of this important measure that is so vital to our community.

Stephen J. Savitsky, President
Rabbi Tzvi H. Weinreb, Executive Vice President
Elliot Gibber, Senior Vice President, OU
More info here.

UPDATE: I received the following statement on the stationery of NY Attorney General Eliot Spitzer:

Governor Pataki this week proposed education tax credits for lower- income families living in school districts with failing schools.

In response to a question from a reporter yesterday about providing government aid to non-public schools, I cautioned that state government must be careful when it devises such programs because of potential constitutional problems. These comments should not be construed to imply that I believe that there are such problems in Governor Pataki’s proposal, or that I am opposed to education tax credits.

In fact, I support the idea of education tax credits. Moreover, I have long advocated for finding constitutional ways to increase the assistance that the state provides to children in non-public schools. In 2002, I convened a task force that released a report outlining specific proposals to accomplish this goal.

I have not seen the details of Governor Pataki's proposal because they have not yet been released. It appears to offer tax credits to aid parents who seek to expand their childrens' school choice or to supplement their childrens' education via tutoring or after-school programs. That is a promising approach.

While most of the benefits provided by the Governor’s proposal would go to parents whose children are educated in the public schools, the state’s first obligation must be to achieve a resolution of the CFE litigation, and to provide the appropriate and necessary funding to the public schools.

I believe that increasing public school funding and providing financial relief to parents of all schoolchildren should be education priorities this year, and I look forward to being part of the discussion on both of these initiatives.

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