The leader of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo says Governor Andrew Cuomo broke a promise to provide needed tax credits that would help fund private and Catholic education. As part of our Focus on Education reporting, WBFO'S Eileen Buckley says area Catholic school students and educators rallied in Niagara Square in downtown Buffalo Wednesday.
"The Governor needs to pass the Education Investment Tax Credit now," said Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone. Malone was a key speaker at the rally Wednesday urging Governor Cuomo to approve the Education Investment Tax Credit.
Malone said in March Cuomo promised to Catholic leaders statewide it would be in the budget, but lawmakers failed to approved it.
"It seems as the Governor is kicking Catholic school children to the curb. He's treating families in Catholic schools and families who want to be in Catholic schools as second class citizens," said Malone.
"Governor Cuomo keep your word," chanted Catholic educators and students.
Students from St. Andrew's Country Day School in Kenmore, Our Lady of Black Rock and Catholic Academy West both in Buffalo joined in the rally calling on Cuomo to approve the tax credits before the state legislative session ends in June. Those credits would provide needed funding for private and Catholic schools -- specifically for scholarships. The Diocese offers Bison scholarships to nearly one-thousand students who cannot afford full tuition.
Sister Gail Glenn is principal of the Catholic Academy said there's a waiting list for families who need help for the Bison fund.
"Religious and independent schools who have been on the short end of the stick in the State of New York for too long. We need to get together and demand that our Governor and our Legislators listen to us" said Glenn.
"So let them know -- get this done!", chanted Catholic Academy parent Francisco Guzman. Guzman has received help from the Bison Fund to education his children.
"We must let our lawmakers know," said Guzman. "They can get this done for our communities."
The Diocese plans to close 10-more schools in the region next month. Secretary of Catholic Education Carol Kostyniak said without the tax credits they fear more schools could shut down in the future.
"Right now we are done with closing schools, but yes -- as we look at this very carefully we need financial assistance," noted Kostyniak.
If approved the tax credit would provide about $150-million a year in assistance to Catholic and private schools and another $150-million would go to public schools.