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Nearly 5,000 Rally In White Plains For Proposed State Education Tax Credit

State Senate Democratic Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins speaks at the rally.
State Senate Democratic Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins speaks at the rally. Photo Credit: Suzanne Samin

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Nearly 5,000 parents, students, and teachers joined together at the Westchester County Center in White Plains on Tuesday, Nov. 19 to support New York’s proposed Education Investment Tax Credit.

The proposed bill would likely increase contributions to public schools programs and scholarships for students attending parochial and private schools by offering donators a dollar for dollar tax credit against their donations.

The Education Investment Tax Credit legislation passed the State Senate last year by a vote of 55-4, and aims to increase support in the State Assembly. The Assembly bill (A.1826) has more than 100 sponsors in the 150-seat chamber.

Several prominent political, religious, and education officials of Westchester County and New York State spoke at the rally, including representatives of Yonkers, New Rochelle, Greenburgh, Scarsdale, White Plains, Mount Vernon and other municipalities.

State Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins told the students in the crowd she approved of the bill because she represents them and their parents who struggle to make sure they get the education they need.

Cardinal Dolan sent in his remarks via video.

"Can you think of anything else more important that we can do as a society than to make sure our children are getting the best education," he said, "It's going to strengthen education, it's going to strengthen our state by helping children attend better schools even if their families cant afford them on their own."

Dr. Timothy McNiff, Superintendent of Schools for Archdiocese of New York, spoke about how the issue was not only limited to Catholic or religious schools, but also extended to public schools in an interfaith effort to enhance the accessibility of education.

Illeannesis Menendez, a student at New Rochelle's Iona College, spoke as living example of a student who benefitted from scholarships that would increase should the credit pass.

"Nine years ago if someone had asked whether I thought it made a difference if I studied at a public or Catholic school, I would say no. Today, I say Catholic education made all the difference," she said.

She told the story of her mother, who worked two jobs in Yonkers to help pay for her education, though it was not enough. Her mother applied to several scholarships which gave her many opportunities.

"Scholarships covered half of my tuition. Now, I am pursuing a career in law. This bill will lead to brighter future for our society," she said.

Jeff Klein, co-president of the NY Senate, explained the need for the government to take steps to make NY more affordable, and to give education back to the consumer.

"Young people should have the right to control their own educational destiny," he said, "Us, the government, should make that happen. This tax credit alone could raise $300 million for education."

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