Three major Jewish organizations joined together Monday to push for the passage of New York’s Parental Choice in Education Act. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed legislation would offer tax credits to families sending children to private school and those contributing to scholarship funds for these schools.
In a press conference held outside the New York City Office of the Governor of the State of New York, representatives from the Orthodox Union, UJA-Federation of New York and Agudath Israel presented a united front urging the state legislature to pass the bill, which would provide $150 million in education tax credits and scholarships annually. The three groups have been engaged in lobbying efforts in Albany and community advocacy in support of the measure, which would provide incentives for those who contribute to scholarship organizations for private school students and tuition tax credits for private school students whose families meet certain criteria.
Tax credits of up to 75 percent would be available for both individuals and businesses that donate to nonprofit scholarship organizations for students at non-public schools. This would equate to, at most, $50 million a year. Additionally, tax credits of up to $500 per student per year would be offered to non-public school families earning less than $60,000 a year.
During Monday’s press conference, Allen Fagin, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union; Eric S. Goldstein, CEO of UJA-Federation of New York; and Rabbi David Zwiebel, executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America, highlighted the impact the bill would have on New York’s Jewish day schools and yeshivas.
All three applauded the governor for his support for his support of school choice, with Goldstein calling on the legislature to “pass this critical measure into law” and make “faith-based education affordable.”
That the three organizations are standing as one “shows how important this legislation is to us,” said Rabbi Zwiebel. “It brings real choice into the concept of parental options for education.”
Fagin said the legislation is about “fairness and civil rights.” Parents who choose to send their children to private schools “are relieving the state of an enormous financial burden. It costs the state approximately $20,000 per child in public school,” he said. “We are relieving the state of billions of dollars in costs.”
The state also benefits from having “well-educated children. This creates jobs and people who become taxpayers,” Fagin said.
(Author: Roslyn Singer – OU Advocacy)