Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Here It Comes: Subsidizing Religious Schools

State Senator Dan Patrick will chair the Texas Senate committee on Education in the next legislative session. And that, to many of us educators, was a signal that school vouchers will again become an issue next year. And this time, it is assumed that it will be steamrolled through the legislature like the redistricting maps and the school-starving budget were in the previous session.
So it came as somewhat of a surprise to me that Patrick is going about the subsidization of religious institutions in a whole new way – through tax credits.
It seems Patrick’s plan is to offer up to 25% of the total tax liabilities of Texas businesses as a tax credit if they donate cash to private school scholarship programs.
These scholarship programs would benefit those in low-performing schools who could then enroll in private schools. And for private schools, read parochial schools.
To no one’s surprise the plan has the endorsement of about 90 percent of all private school organizations, many of which are religious in nature, and the rest of which are exclusive rich kid schools.
These tax credits, you know, either have to be made up by taxing someone else, or by cuts in state services – the majority of which is either health or education.
The agenda, it seems, is to support tax exempt for- profit schools at the expense of cuts to programs that Dan Patrick doesn’t like.
So the only thing that is different, here, is that the impact to schools is less direct, but there nonetheless, and religious institutions get a huge boost in donations because through state tax credits.
Taxpayers will end up paying for things that the business taxes don’t pay for, and in return they won’t get benefits from their own tax payments in terms of public education.
Isn’t it funny how these Texas Republicans are going to fix the problems in public education? It reminds me of how we saved Vietnam: in order to save Vietnam we had to destroy it.

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