Statement on agreement to exempt Catholic schools from MTA payroll Tax

Published on December 6th, 2011

New York State Catholic Conference Executive Director Richard E. Barnes made the following statement today in light of the announcement by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver that they have reached agreement on a legislative package that includes long-sought language exempting religious and independent schools in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority service area from the MTA payroll tax:

“For more than two years, downstate religious and independent schools have been subject to an onerous payroll tax to help fund the MTA, while their public school counterparts were reimbursed by the state for the same tax. With Catholic schools in crisis across the state, this extra burden on schools and tuition-paying parents exacerbated an already tenuous situation.

“While several legislators and leaders in the past two sessions have sought to remedy this unfair treatment, the matter continued to go unresolved and has cost religious and independent schools an estimated $8 million per year that they could not afford. We are therefore very grateful to Governor Cuomo, Senator Skelos and Speaker Silver for coming together today to reach agreement on an exemption from the tax for our schools. This was a matter of basic fairness and we applaud these officials for recognizing it.

“While today’s action will not relieve the enrollment and funding crisis facing our schools, it will certainly be helpful and we urge the legislature to pass it. We look forward to working with the governor and legislature in the upcoming session to more fully address this crisis facing parents and children in independent and religious schools, which could ultimately have catastrophic impact on all New York taxpayers.”

The New York State Catholic Conference represents the Catholic Bishops of New York State in public policy matters. The MTA payroll tax has impacted Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of New York, the Diocese of Brooklyn and the Diocese of Rockville Centre.

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