State Legislators to Special Needs Delegation: Education Tax Credit Bill Is Good for All Schools and for Public School Teachers

The Education Investment Incentives Act—also known as the Education Tax Credit—is good for both public and non-public schools: this was the message shared by many of the state legislators who met with today’s 50-person delegation, composed of individuals with special needs and mainstream high school students, who went to Albany to push for the passage of the Education Tax Credit bill.

Passing the Education Tax Credit is the top priority during the 2015 Legislative Session for OU Advocacy-Teach NYS, the nonpartisan public policy arm of the Orthodox Union, which organized the delegation together with Yachad, the flagship program of the Orthodox Union’s National Jewish Council for Disabilities.

Each legislator the delegation met emphasized the importance of the group’s advocacy, its presence in Albany, and the need to raise awareness about issues directly with state legislators. Assembly Member Michael Simanowitz added that members of the delegation must mobilize their communities at home to support the Education Tax Credit.

In addition to benefiting public and non-public schools, Assembly Member Simanowitz noted that the Education Tax Credit bill would benefit public school teachers because they would get tax credits for out-of-pocket expenses.

For families who already incur additional costs to support children with special needs, the Education Tax Credit is especially important. With scholarship aid from the Education Tax Credit, these families would be able to provide their children with the best education suited to their needs, without adding to their debt.

“Often, parents who have a child with special needs have to take second jobs to cover all of their bills. The Education Tax Credit would help them with their schooling bills, lightening their load,” said Deena Moskowitz, a Yachad Day Habilitation member.

“We are so pleased that our Day Habilitation participants and Youth Leadership Council students were able to take advantage of this important opportunity to help pass the Education Tax Credit for all of New York’s Jewish day school and non-public students,” said Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, International Director of Yachad.

“Today’s mission was the perfect illustration that everyone can be an advocate and make a difference by coming to Albany and speaking with legislators,” said Arielle Frankston-Morris, Director of Field Operations for OU Advocacy-Teach NYS. “Yachad’s Day Habilitation participants and Youth Leadership Council students demonstrated to our state legislators that the Education Tax Credit bill has an important impact on the special needs community.”

“The Education Tax Credit bill has gained tremendous momentum over the past several years. With Governor Cuomo committing his support for the bill, the Senate passing the bill, and a significant amount of support for the bill in the Assembly, we are confident that 2015 will be the year of the Education Tax Credit, to benefit all of New York’s children,” said Jake Adler, New York Policy Director for OU Advocacy-Teach NYS.

Today’s mission was the second of four advocacy missions organized by OU Advocacy-Teach NYS in support of the Education Tax Credit. The first mission brought a joint delegation of 30 high school students to Albany from Yeshivah of Flatbush and Nazareth Regional High School. The remaining two missions will bring parents, students and Jewish day school leaders from across the state to Albany.

By encouraging individuals and corporations to make charitable contributions to public schools or scholarship-making organizations for tuition-paying families, the Education Tax Credit could generate an unprecedented amount of support to tuition-paying families and ensure that the program benefits the broadest swath of New York’s schoolchildren. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has included the credit in his Executive Budget. The bill in the state Senate is sponsored by Senators Martin J. Golden (R-Brooklyn) and Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn); in the state Assembly, the bill is sponsored by Assembly Member Michael Cusick (D-Staten Island).