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It’s unfair to ask taxpayers to subsidize private schools

Across the Buffalo Niagara region, our tax dollars support a number of municipal golf courses, where weekend duffers have an equal opportunity to swing their clubs alongside more skilled golfers. ​Residents support our region’s network of municipal golf courses, as well as public parks and swimming pools, because they see the benefit of providing first-quality recreational opportunities to all residents, especially those who otherwise may not be able to afford to golf or to swim. ​For those who prefer private country clubs, we accept their personal choices. We wouldn’t dream of providing tax breaks to subsidize their decisions.

​Providing tax credits for those who choose a private or parochial school education for their children is no different. Parents, of course, have every right to choose what kind of education they believe is best for their children, but they shouldn’t be asking the public to subsidize their personal choices through back-door voucher schemes masquerading as charitable giving.

​Proposed legislation to provide personal income tax credits for donations to private and religious school foundations would divert scarce tax dollars from the state’s general fund to pay for someone’s personal school choice. That is especially questionable at a time when state funding for public education is $1.1 billion less than in 2008-09 and the public is demanding more and more accountability for how its tax dollars are spent. Providing tax subsidies for those who can already afford private and religious schools simply takes money from the public arena and places it in the hands of private operators, who don’t have to answer for how our tax dollars are spent.

​Rather than taking money from public schools in Western New York, which educate more than 90 percent of the region’s children, we should be pressing our elected leaders to invest more in education.

Kevin Rustowicz

President, Niagara-Wheatfield

Teachers’ Association

Grand Island