Gov. Andrew Cuomo has found a new way to help his ultra-wealthy campaign contributors while at the same time hurting public schools.
He is proposing an education tax credit that would richly reward his campaign donors by giving individuals and businesses tax credits equal to 75 percent of their donations to a scholarship fund for private schools. The scholarships can go to students from families who earn up to $250,000.
Tax credits are far more generous than tax deductions because they give a dollar-for-dollar reduction of taxes. That means one of Cuomo’s Wall Street supporters who gives $1.3 million to a private school would have his state taxes reduced by a whopping $1 million.
To make this proposal politically palatable, Cuomo is also offering the tax credits for contributions to public schools or nonprofits that provide education support, such as after-school programs. But the fact that a school must have a foundation to receive contributions reveals that private schools and their donors are the intended beneficiaries.
Public schools can get only up to $20 million in tax credits, while tax credits for private schools may total $70 million.
Our governor owes state public schools more than $5 billion under the Campaign for Fiscal Equity settlement, but has somehow found $150 million a year to subsidize his wealthy donors and private schools.
Most telling is that Cuomo’s proposed tax credit bill bears striking resemblance to model legislation by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a right-wing group that wants to destroy public education and whose funders include the Koch family.
Our governor is in step with ALEC’s right-wing ideology against public schools. But he is far out of step with New York State residents, as recent polls show.
The state Legislature must reject this destructive proposal.