May 12, 2015
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Introduces Parental Choice in Education Act

TOP Governor Cuomo Introduces Parental Choice in...

Governor Joins Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Parents, Students and Local Elected Officials to Call on Legislature to Stand Up For Choice in Education

Last Year, Approximately 19,000 Students Attended 126 Nonpublic Schools in Western New York


Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today introduced the Parental Choice in Education Act, which will support and protect alternative school options for parents and students across New York State. The Act provides for $150 million in education tax credits annually that will provide: 

  1. Tax credits to low-income families who send their children to nonpublic schools,
  2. Scholarships to low- and middle-income students to attend either a public school outside of their district or a nonpublic school,
  3. Incentives to public schools for enhanced educational programming (like after school programs); and,
  4. Tax credits to public school teachers for the purchase of supplies.

The Governor was joined at an event today in Eggertsville by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Reverend James Lewis, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, and numerous parents, students and other elected officials to call on the legislature to pass the Act this session.

“Education is the greatest gift that a parent can give to their children – and it is also one of the most personal decisions that a parent can make. That’s why we need to support parental choice in education,” Governor Cuomo said. “By rewarding donations that support public schools, providing tax credits for teachers when they purchase classroom supplies out of pocket, and easing the financial burden on families who send their children to independent, parochial or out-of-district public schools, we can make a fundamental difference in the lives of students, families and educators across the state. The legislature must pass this Act this year, because families deserve a choice when it comes to their child’s education.”



Cardinal Timothy Dolan said, “This is not just a Catholic issue – it is an issue for every parochial, private or nonpublic school that is devoted to the success of their students. Our students are our greatest treasure and the Parental Choice in Education Act is all about supporting them no matter where they go to school. We need the legislature to stand with us on this issue, just as Governor Cuomo has, in order to ensure that it becomes law and we can support all schools this year.” 


Reverend James Lewis, Pastor at Erie County Medical Center and President of the Western New York Full Gospel Baptist Church, said, “Governor Cuomo is right to stand up for parental choice in education. Parochial and independent schools provide essential learning opportunities and help students grow just like public schools, and we should be doing everything we can to support them and the families that depend on them. I am proud to support the Governor’s proposal, and I urge every legislator in the Senate and Assembly to pass this bill.”


Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said, “By providing tax credits that support scholarships, after school programs, and teachers that buy supplies for their classrooms, we can make a significant investment in our school system – and one that leads to an improved learning environment for our students. I am proud to support Governor Cuomo’s education tax credit proposal because it will help us continue to build a brighter future for children in Buffalo and across the state.”


400,000 students, or approximately 15 percent of all students in New York State attend nonpublic schools, providing an important educational alternative in virtually every corner of New York State – and especially so in communities where the existing public schools are failing. There are currently 178 failing public schools in New York State – many of which have been failing for ten years or more.


Despite their importance as alternative options for parents and students in failing districts, many parochial schools in New York State are experiencing financial hardship, and parents can face steep costs to enroll their children in such schools. Statewide, more than 75 parochial schools have closed in just the last five years, and average tuition can reach as high as $8,500 per student annually.


Therefore, the Parental Choice in Education Act will support important alternatives for parents across the state – especially important for low-income families and families living in overcrowded or failing districts.


Family Choice Education Credit


This $70 million portion of the Parental Choice in Education Act will provide credits to families of nonpublic school students. Families with incomes below $60,000 per year would qualify for up to $500 per student for tuition expenses to nonpublic and out-of-district public schools. This will benefit approximately 140,000 children and approximately 82,000 families across the state.


Education Scholarship and Program Tax Credit


This portion of the Parental Choice in Education Act includes two components. The first provides $50 million in credits to support scholarships for low-income and other students in grades P-12 who attend nonpublic schools. The second provides $20 million in credits to fund educational programs at public schools and supporting not-for-profit organizations.


$67 Million in Scholarships for Low-Income Students Attending Private Schools in Grades P-12: This tax credit totaling $50 million will expand access to nonpublic schools for families who may not be able to afford tuition by funding $67 million in scholarships to help low-income and other students attend private or out-of-district public schools. Individuals and businesses can receive a tax credit for up to 75 percent of their donations made to not-for-profit organizations that award scholarships to students in grades P-12. Those organizations will award scholarships to private and out-of-district public schools based on financial need of the students' families. 


$27 Million for Public School Programs: Under this portion of the Education Scholarship and Program Tax Credit, public school students and educators will benefit from $27 million in new funds for education improvement programs. Individuals and businesses will be able to receive a total of $20 million in tax credits for up to 75 percent of their donations made to public schools and not-for-profits that support public schools’ educational programs, including Pre-Kindergarten and extended-day programs.


Instructional Materials and Supplies Credit


This $10 million component of the Parental Choice in Education Act provides a tax credit of up to $200 per public school educator to support the purchase of instructional materials and supplies for use in teachers’ classrooms. This credit will benefit educators and students throughout the state, and will be administered on a first come, first served basis. 

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Contact the Governor's Press Office

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