With the 2016 Regular Session of the Kentucky General Assembly now underway, make plans today to attend Catholics @ the Capitol 2016. This year, we will be having a one-day program on Tuesday, February 9, which will include presentations on the key elements of CCK’s legislative agenda and the opportunity to visit the Capitol and meet with your elected representatives. It promises to be a great day. Our hope is that the one-day program is more convenient for many than the two-day program we have put on in the past. For those who are traveling greater distances, however, we are more than happy to assist you in finding overnight accommodations. Please click below for the planned agenda and the registration form.
An article titled “School Choice – Tuition Assistance Tax Credit” by Associate Director, Andrew Vandiver, was recently published in The Rank and File Catholic. The Rank and File Catholic is a Kentucky based newsletter which seeks to connect the teachings of the Church with the struggles of labor.
A copy of the article can be found here.
The Catholic Conference of Kentucky recently wrote a blog entry with regard to the bipartisan support for school choice amongst politicians. Yet, this blog entry only provided a small glimpse at the diversity that exists among supporters of school choice programs. Support transcends race, political affiliation, and gender.
A recent poll conducted by EdChoice Kentucky found substantial support for scholarship tax credits across several major demographic categories, including gender, party affiliation, and race. Support from Democrats and Republicans exceeded 70%. Support was highest amongst African Americans with 84% supporting a scholarship tax credit program.
This isn’t unique to Kentucky. In New York, a coalition of community, labor, business and religious groups pushed for the adoption of a scholarship tax credit program. Labor unions and local Chambers of Commerce stood together. Various religious groups came out and voiced support for school choice as a fundamental right of parents and students.
The Catholic Conference will continue to work with its allies to form similar alliances here in Kentucky. In a world often divided, scholarship tax credits present a real opportunity to bring people together for the benefit of Kentucky’s children.
On Friday, June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, striking down all state marriage laws that did not allow for marriages between persons of the same sex. Following the ruling, the Archbishop of Louisville, Joseph Kurtz, in his capacity as President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued a formal response, which can be found here:
Bishop John Stowe of Lexington also issued a public letter:
For more information on the U.S. Bishops work in defense of marriage, including statements from bishops across the country in response to the Supreme Court decision, please visit Marriage: Unique for a Reason.
School choice is often characterized as a conservative cause. Yet, this is not the case. Both Republicans and Democrats have recognized the value of empowering parents to choose the best educational environment for their children. Members of both political parties understand that the current system is unjust because access to a quality education is often determined based on a family’s income or ZIP Code.
The “mother of school choice” was a black Democrat named Polly Williams. She was the driving force behind the first modern school choice program in the United States passed in 1989. Since that time, 14 Republican controlled states have implemented school choice programs and the following Democratic governors have presided over the passage of school choice legislation:
|States||Governor||Number of Bills Signed||Year Bill Signed|
|Arizona||Janet Napolitano||6 bills||2006, 2007, 2008|
|Iowa||Tom Vilsack||1 bill||2006|
|Iowa||Chet Culver||2 bills||2007, 2009|
|North Carolina||Beverly Perdue||1 bill||2011|
|Oklahoma||Brad Henry||1 bill||2010|
|Pennsylvania||Ed Rendell||3 bills||2006, 2007, 2008|
|Wisconsin||Jim Doyle||1 bill||2006|
The school choice movement still enjoys a great deal of bipartisan support across the nation. Governor Andrew Cuomo has championed one of the largest school choice proposals in the country. Senator Rand Paul has made school choice a major part of his presidential platform. There are few politicians that are farther apart on the political spectrum than Senator Paul and Governor Cuomo. Yet, both are in agreement that all parents deserve a real choice when it comes to their children’s education.
This spirit of bipartisanship is also present in Kentucky. Representatives Tommy Thompson (D) and David Floyd (R) sponsored House Bill 384 during the 2015 session of the General Assembly. If passed, House Bill 384 would create a tax credit program which would incentivize donations to tuition assistance organizations. This would increase the overall amount of tuition assistance available to Kentucky families.
In 2016, Kentucky will have a new governor who will need to find common ground between the parties. School choice legislation provides an opportunity for Republicans and Democrats to work together in a divided government. The parties should follow the lead of Representatives Thompson and Floyd by passing legislation like House Bill 384. In doing so, Kentucky would join a national, bipartisan movement seeking to give every child the education they deserve.