More Tuition-Break Wars In Local Politics

Last week we told you how two candidates in a special state Senate election are jockeying to be the better advocate of tuition breaks for parochial and other private schools.

Now, Republican Rep. Bob Turner of Queens and Brooklyn and the man who wants to take him on in November, Democrat Assemb. Rory Lancman are doing the same dance.

Turner on Monday announced H.R. 4075, which he calls the Tax and Education Assistance for Children (TEACH) Act of 2012. “The bill will provide a tax credit of up to $5,000 dollars per year, per family, for families who send their children to private schools and eliminate a ‘double taxation’ on parents who send their children to non-public schools,” says the congressman.

That ‘double taxation’ is your property tax in top of the cost of your private education.

“Members of school communities are ecstatic about what this will mean for them,” Turner insists.

He corraled statements of support from Assemblyman Dov Hikind and Larry Goldfarb, Chairman of the Board, Crown Heights Yeshivah.

“I deal with the tuition committee and I know how difficult the tuition payments are for some parents,” said Goldfarb. “This bill will be helpful to so many of our parents.”

Lancman’s response: “Welcome to the cause.”

“The bill he introduced at the federal level is a more modest version of legislation I'm co-sponsoring at the state level,” he said in a statement.

A bi-partisan, two-house bill would provide a tax credit of up to $6,000 for individuals and $15,000 for businesses that contribute to a charitable organization that provides religious school tuition assistance. Lancman noted that he put three children through religious school, Solomon Schechter of Queens. “I know first-hand the financial burden it imposes, and that’s why I led the fight to remove the onerous MTA mobility tax on private and religious schools and to require a 100 percent reimbursement to religious schools for unfunded state mandates, including the burdensome comprehensive attendance mandate.”

Tuition breaks in the form of vouchers or tax write-offs will likely become one of the most talked-about issues in upcoming races in heavily Jewish and Catholic areas. Little progress on that front is likely, though, given that the powerful teachers unions are heavily mobilized against anything they believe will steer funds away from public education.


About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.