It’s not hard to see the motive behind New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s effort seeking preferential tax treatment for contributions for public- and private-school scholarships. He’s trying to save his church’s schools, which would benefit if more students were able to attend; and scholarships would help them.
Granted, his plan wouldn’t favor just Catholic schools; scholarship contributions to all parochial schools, private schools, charter schools, even traditional public schools, would qualify for tax credits totaling as much as $300 million annually.
But who’s kidding whom? Catholic schools would clearly be a big beneficiary and — much like a voucher system — it would be at the expense of public schools, which would lose some of their best students, as well as the aid to educate them and other students.
Contributions to nonprofit educational institutions are already tax-deductible; that should be enough. Tax credits providing dollar-for-dollar relief are indeed lucrative — probably lucrative enough to attract a lot of contributions. And while that would be good for alternatives to traditional public education, it would hurt traditional public schools. It would also cost the state a bundle.
The Senate has passed a bill providing such a credit, but the Assembly is balking. It should continue to do so.