Use taxpayer dollars for public education
A looming threat to public education is in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Education Investment Incentives Act, part of his proposed executive budget. Tax credits are offered to corporations and individuals who support private, parochial and public schools of their choice, with no restriction on the school’s location or its need, through a first-come, first-serve process. This proposed bill allocates $100 million to $150 million to greatly reduce the donors’ tax liability.
The League of Women Voters of New York State has continuously expressed its strong belief that public dollars should go to public education, and has opposed efforts to divert that funding.
The league strongly opposes this tax incentive because it believes:
• Education aid should be allocated through a democratic and transparent legislative process. This act does not target high-needs schools.
• This is inconsistent with the league’s position in favor of progressive taxation. Tax credits represent a much greater loss of revenue to the state than do deductions, and up to an unprecedented $1 million each could be saved in tax liability by individuals or corporations.
• This tax credit would siphon up to $300 million from the general fund when it is phased in, leaving less money for education and other programs. There is no guarantee that high-needs public schools would benefit.
Since the Legislature has failed to fulfill the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit’s aims, taxpayer dollars should be used primarily for students attending public schools in high-needs school districts.
Joan T. Parks
League of Women Voters of Buffalo Niagara