Felder May Return To Democratic Conference; EITC Defeated Once Again
The failure to include the Education Investment Tax Credit (EITC) in the latest state budget has many factions roiled. It is seen as a victory for the teachers’ unions and another blow for groups such as the Catholic Conference, Agudath Israel of America, (AIA) and the Orthodox Union.
Two weeks prior to passage of the state budget, Assemblywoman Deborah Glick (D – Greenwich Village, Manhattan) released a statement in her newsletter regarding the tax credit proposal.
The EITC, she said, “would create a tax credit for 75 percent credit up to $1 million for donations made to private, parochial or public schools,” Glick wrote. “The Assembly rejects this proposal.”
Glick is the chairwoman of the Assembly committee on Higher Education and a member of the powerful Rules and Ways and Means committees.
Senator Jesse Hamilton (D – Crown Heights, Brooklyn) says he voted for the EITC bill when it came up on the first day of session. He also voted for the budget bill that did not include the EITC. He says that despite his support of EITC, unions will still support his reelection.
“I have a vested interest in this too,” Hamilton said on “The Jewish View,” a television program taped in Albany. “My son goes to parochial school. The unions will still back me. One issue doesn’t define Jesse Hamilton.”
Hamilton is advocating for a compromise solution.
“I think it has to be modified somewhat,” he said, “where if you just look at it from that parental point of view where if a parent is getting it versus someone who has no child in the school that might be more palatable for some opponents to swallow. If it was just geared to the parents, where if I’m a parent and I paid $10,000 and I can get $9,000 back as a tax credit, that’s more palatable. To let some investment banker get a tax credit for donating to any school they want, such as a school their best friend’s child is going to [is not right]. I think it has to be more for the parents who are paying the money, not for investors who are donating the money to the schools because the parents should be the one getting the tax credit not some person who has no child in the school system.”
AIA, which was lobbying hard for passage of EITC, said the budget is a mixed bag of successes and disappointments for the group.
“We of course appreciate the funding for safety equipment for nonpublic schools and the increases in reimbursements of Mandated Services and CAP (Comprehensive Attendance Program) – these are very important and we are very grateful,” said Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Agudath Israel’s executive vice president. “For those of us who deal with the State Education Department on an ongoing basis, having a dedicated Office for Religious and Independent Schools will make a real difference in accessing services for our yeshivas. We are, however, disappointed at the absence of any form of education tax credits. Agudath Israel will continue to battle for the interests of yeshivas, the most precious communal asset we have.”
The repercussions of this failed attempt to pass the EITC may lead to a defection from the Republican conference by a frustrated Senator Simcha Felder (D – Boro Park, Brooklyn).
On “The Jewish View,” Hamilton said he thinks Felder will come back to the Democratic side of the aisle because he’s upset with the Republicans.
“Simcha felt that the Republican Senate didn’t fight hard enough for it so the last vote for the budget, Simcha was the only person who voted ‘no’ to voice his opposition to what had happened,” Hamilton said. “I voted for the bill because it also included the minimum wage, paid family leave act, it had a lot of things in it. I was upset because they gave us the budget two hours before we voted on it. I got the budget at 7 o’clock in the morning after being up for 20 hours. I think Simcha is trying to get the best for his community and he realized with the Senate Republicans he could not get the support he needed.”Marc Gronich