Statement By Attorney General Eliot Spitzer Regarding Education Tax Credits
In response to a question from a reporter yesterday about providing government aid to non-public schools, I cautioned that state government must be careful when it devises such programs because of potential constitutional problems. These comments should not be construed to imply that I believe that there are such problems in Governor Pataki's proposal, or that I am opposed to education tax credits.
In fact, I support the idea of education tax credits. Moreover, I have long advocated for finding constitutional ways to increase the assistance that the state provides to children in non-public schools. In 2002, I convened a task force that released a report outlining specific proposals to accomplish this goal.
I have not seen the details of Governor Pataki's proposal because they have not yet been released.
It appears to offer tax credits to aid parents who seek to expand their childrens' school choice or to supplement their childrens' education via tutoring or after-school programs. That is a promising approach.
While most of the benefits provided by the Governor's proposal would go to parents whose children are educated in the public schools, the state's first obligation must be to achieve a resolution of the CFE litigation, and to provide the appropriate and necessary funding to the public schools.
I believe that increasing public school funding and providing financial relief to parents of all schoolchildren should be education priorities this year, and I look forward to being part of the discussion on both of these initiatives.