by Simon Brown
What does rent control in New York City have to do with tax credits that would be used to support religious schools? Quite a bit, at least as far as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is concerned.
In a move that can best be described as desperate, Cuomo initially tied together a piece of legislation that would renew expiring rent control laws with the creation of a new tuition tax credit program.
Even with rent controls, New York City is one expensive place to live. In May, the average rental cost $3,432 per month. That’s up more than $1,000 from July 2009. Clearly, rent control is important to a lot of people. Cuomo is well aware of this, which is why he’s trying to force the passage of his controversial tax credit by affixing it to something a lot more people favor.
As for the tuition tax credits that Cuomo has backed, they are awful from a church-state perspective. Individuals and businesses that donate money to non-profit “scholarship” organizations, which offer tuition assistance for students attending private and religious schools, would receive a tax credit of 75 percent. The maximum credit would be $1 million per individual or business and the program would be capped at $150 million for 2016. That means up to $150 million could flow directly to sectarian schools instead of into state coffers.
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