Leaders, including Cardinal Timothy Dolan and the presidents of the firefighters and police officers' unions, joined with parents and students Monday to ask Governor Andrew Cuomo and the legislature to support a tax credit for school programs and scholarships for low-income families. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.
With the band from Cathedral High School performing in their gym, it almost seemed like a pep rally, but instead of supporting one of the school's teams, everyone was there to push for passage of Education Investment Tax Credit legislation in Albany.
"Anything we can do to help education, to help our kids, we want to do it as vigorously as possible, and I don't know of a bill that does that better than the one we got now," said Cardinal Timothy Dolan.
The proposed legislation would let New Yorkers give up to 75 percent of what they owe in state income taxes to a school or education organization instead. The Education Tax Credits would send hundreds of millions of dollars to private and religious schools and cost the state about $300 million a year.
The state Senate has already passed its version of the bill twice, and supporters here said that there is widespread backing in the state Assembly. Labor has also gotten behind it, including law enforcement unions like the New York City Police Department's Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.
"Why does a New York City police officer pledge support to this bill? Because it helps my children. It helps your children. It helps the next generation of lifesavers," said Patrick Lynch, president of the PBA.
There were some heavy hitters speaking in support of the bill, but there were also students and parents who said they are behind it as well, like college-bound Cathedral High School Student Body President Selene Taveras.
"I think the bill is a good thing to pass because everybody needs that extra push. Scholarships really help out," Taveras said.
Katia Saca is a single parent with two kids enrolled at St. Adalbert's School in the Elmhurst section of Queens.
"All we want is the best education for our kids, and this is the reason why I am 100 percent towards this," she said.
The legislation would also provide a tax credit of up to $100 for teachers who spend their own money on classroom supplies.