Friday, February 02, 2007


Well this is surprising.  From WTEN:

Budget Controversy Sparked by Just Two Little Lines

The Governor calls it a tax break - a tax break worth a couple of hundred dollars. But the people who teach your kids call it bad public policy.

The idea that parents who send their kids to a private or parochial school get a tax deduction was a surprise for many in the budget plan Governor Spitzer laid out. And some are saying it was snuck in, in the five-volume budget.

And the proposal makes up just two lines. NEWS10's John McLoughlin explains why those two little lines could be what many people will care the most about.

The Governor never even mentioned it during his budget briefings - but there it was, a new personal income tax deduction of up to one-thousand dollars for each kid in private or parochial school.

"Were you surprised when you saw this in the budget?" McLoughlin asked Steve Allinger, the Legislative Director of the New York State United Teachers Union.

"Yes, we were surprised," Allinger said.

Allinger, the lobbyist for NYSUT, says tax deductions for religious schools not only harm public education - he says they are simply wrong, "to use the public's tax expenditures or appropriations to support narrow private sectarian uses."

"They've got a lot of nerve complaining," says Dennis Poust, Legislative Director for the New York State Catholic Conference.

Poust says NYSUT's got a lot of nerve after Spitzer pledged a record seven-billion dollars in new school aid, while the private and parochial schools are educating half-a-million youngsters for a lot less money.

This is something I didn't expect from Spitzer.  Most Democrats are so tight with the teachers' unions that they wouldn't even dream of proposing such a thing.  Of course NYSUT's response was exactly what I expected.  Their rep makes it a point to mention that money would go to "sectarian" schools.  No one ever seems to remember that millions of dollars in government financial aid and student loans goes to private religious colleges and universities every year.  I guess we owe this oversight to the lack of a powerful union for professors at the state instititions of higher education.  The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and all that.

It'll be interesting to see if our new Governor has the stones to stand up to them.  I'll keep my fingers crossed, but I'm not holding my breath.

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