Archbishop Dolan to Testify at Legislative Budget Hearing on Education

Published on February 14th, 2011

New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan will testify at a joint legislative budget hearing on elementary and secondary education tomorrow, February 15, at the Legislative Office Building at the state Capitol complex in Albany. Archbishop Dolan is expected to be called to testify sometime in the early afternoon, depending on the length of the testimony of those who speak before him.

The Archbishop will testify about the crisis facing the state’s Catholic schools, which educate some 200,000 children. The actions and inaction of elected officials have played a critical role in driving up tuition, further exacerbating that crisis. Specifically, he will address:

Gov. Cuomo’s proposed cuts to reimbursements for religious and independent schools for the Mandated Services Reimbursement and Comprehensive Attendance Policy programs. The Governor proposes cutting reimbursements by 8 percent. The state already owes religious and independent schools approximately $270 million in past reimbursements for the two programs going back to the 2002-03 school year.

The cost to independent and religious schools of the MTA payroll tax. This tax, which was instituted in the MTA service area in and around New York City, costs religious and independent schools an estimated $7 million per year. Public schools are reimbursed by the state for their tax obligation, while Catholic and other non-public schools are not.

Parental choice in education. Archbishop Dolan will make the case for a system of scholarships or tax credits to help parents who choose to send their children to a religious or independent school. Such parents save taxpayers at least $8 billion per year and get nothing to show from the state for their sacrifice. The closing of Catholic and other non-public schools due to declining attendance brought on by rising tuition directly contributes to rising school taxes, urban flight and other negative outcomes that impact the entire state.

Archbishop Dolan’s written testimony will be available on the web site of the New York State Catholic Conference (www.nyscatholic.org) at noon tomorrow. The Catholic Conference represents New York State’s Bishops in matters of public policy.

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