Some Catholic school reimbursement restored, but funding still falls far short

Published on March 31st, 2011

Through the efforts of members of the New York State Legislature, $3 million of a proposed cut of $8.7 million in reimbursements to religious and independent schools for state mandates was restored in the just-approved 2011-12 State Budget. This amounts to a 34 percent restoration of Gov. Cuomo’s cuts to the Mandated Services Reimbursement (MSR) and Comprehensive Attendance Policy (CAP) programs.

Some Catholic school reimbursement restored, but funding still falls far short of need
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Through the efforts of members of the New York State Legislature, $3 million of a proposed cut of $8.7 million in reimbursements to religious and independent schools for state mandates was restored in the just-approved 2011-12 State Budget. This amounts to a 34 percent restoration of Gov. Cuomo’s cuts to the Mandated Services Reimbursement (MSR) and Comprehensive Attendance Policy (CAP) programs.

“The partial restorations provided by the Senate and Assembly are helpful and appreciated,” said James D. Cultrara, director for education for the New York State Catholic Conference. “However, it will not be nearly enough to reverse the crisis facing the state’s Catholic schools, which threatens to adversely impact public school districts, taxpayers and, most importantly, thousands of children.”

It must be noted that the Governor’s proposed $8.7 million cut was to last year’s underfunded appropriation, not the actual expenditures by religious and independent schools. Under the approved budget, just over $103 million is available to these schools for MSR/CAP. However, it is anticipated that $135 million is needed to meet the 100 percent statutory reimbursement requirement for these schools. In addition, the state did not address the injustice of reimbursing only public schools for the cost of the MTA payroll tax but not independent and religious schools. This tax is expected to cost these schools in the New York City metropolitan area an additional $7 million.

“New York’s religious and independent school families save taxpayers no less than $8.5 billion every year by paying for both tuition and school taxes,” Cultrara noted. “The math is simple. Every time a student leaves one of our schools for a public or charter school, it costs taxpayers at least $14,000. In addition, already overcrowded public school classrooms become even more so. If parents could opt instead for a $4,000 tuition tax credit or scholarship to allow them to choose an independent or religious school for their child, then for every one that did so that would be $10,000 more that would be available for public schools’ strained budgets. It is a fiscally and morally sound solution that would benefit, public schools, religious and independent schools, taxpayers, the business community, parents and children.”

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