March 19, 2014

                                                                   FUNDING CRISIS REMAINS WHILE FUNDS ARE DIVERTED

While the Gap Elimination Adjustment continues to wreak havoc on school districts and Foundation Aid remains frozen, state leaders are poised to divert hundreds of millions in critically needed funding to private, parochial and charter schools. 

Right now, legislative leaders are debating the need for a state income tax credit for “donations” to these schools, as well as for donations to public schools.  The practical result is that parents of private, charter and parochial schools would be able to offer a “donation” to their child’s school and receive a “scholarship” in return.  The parent donor could then receive a state income tax credit for virtually the same amount, receiving a free private education at state expense. 

WHY should we care, since donors could also choose to give money to public schools?  Two reasons:  First, a hundred million dollars would be diverted away from desperately needed GEA reduction and Foundation Aid increases this year alone, with even more after that.  Support for private education is a personal choice, but providing a sound public education is a public duty.  The state shouldn’t underfund public schools so they can underwrite a personal choice.  Secondly, under the plan, private schools gain, charter schools gain, wealthy public schools might gain.  Who loses?  Any public school without a wealthy community willing and able to donate, because they not only don’t gain under this plan, their state aid gets spent on tax credits.

What should you do about it?  Call your legislators right now!  This improper use of public funds is being written into the state budget as we speak.  Once they’re created, these types of credits can and will be expanded, and every diverted dollar prevents them from getting school districts the aid they deserve.  Tell your legislators you oppose their spending state funds on tuition tax credits while they shortchange their own public schools.  Haven’t they told you public education is their top priority, and that eliminating the GEA and increasing state aid is “job one”?  If reports are true, their actions are saying something far different.   They are planning to approve sending hundreds of millions of dollars over the next three years to everyone but public schools.  It’s an inappropriate gift at the expense of our most needy kids. 

CALL Your Member of Assembly NOW at 518.455.4100!
CALL your Senator NOW at 518.455.2800!

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