From the Morning Memo:

Assemblyman Peter Abbate, a Brooklyn Democrat with strong labor ties, recently signaled his full support of a controversial education tax credit measure, pledging to vote for it should it ever be allowed out of committee by Speaker Carl Heastie.

Abbate, who chairs the Committee on Governmental Employees and is also a member of the Labor Committee, expressed his support in a May 13 letter to the bishop of Brooklyn, Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio, who has been pushing for the tax credit for several years.

In the letter, Abbate cited his own parochial school roots as motivation for his position on this bill. (UPDATE: The letter appears below).

“As a product of Regina Pacis, Bishop Ford and St. Johns University, this bill is something that I have a personal understanding of and appreciation for,” the assemblyman wrote.

“I am sure you are aware of all I have done to support the parochial schools, senior centers and churches in my district. I am very proud to say that I do stand with all the families in my district, and have the record to prove it.”

Abbate, who is not a sponsor of the tax credit bill, also expressed his hope that he and the bishop can “get on the same page regarding this legislation,” and offered to assist the bishop in determining “more productive ways to channel your energies than lobbying for sponsorship.”

“I have many ideas to organize and assist you in getting this done,” Abbate concluded.

In a recent OpEd that ran in a local Brooklyn/Queens newspaper, DiMarzio singled out Heastie, Abbate and Assembly Education Committee Chair Cathy Nolan, (a Queens Democrat and another Catholic school graduate), saying they are “keeping parents from having reach school choices.”

“Why? Because of special interest teachers’ union leaders who don’t want parents to have a choice of which school their child attends,” the bishop wrote. “…Some lawmakers want to have it both ways – they say they are with us, but refuse to lift a finger. The time for action is now.”

A number of Assembly Democrats have been under fire for failing to support the education tax credit, which has been repackaged by Gov. Andrew Cuomo as the Parental Choice in Education Act, and is one of the governor’s top end-of-session priorities.

Some Democratic lawmakers have cried foul after being targeted by robocalls and mailers accusing them of putting themselves before New York schoolchildren by approving a legislative pay raise commission as part of the budget deal, but failing to back the governor’s tax credit proposal.

Lawmakers say the campaign trying to get them to move on this issue is having the opposite effect, causing support to erode in the conference.

Heastie used to sponsor tax credit legislation, but pulled his name from the measure – as he did with all bills – when he ascended to become speaker, replacing Assemblyman Sheldon Silver, a Manhattan Democrat who has been hit with federal corruption charges by US Attorney Preet Bharara.

Heastie has repeatedly insisted there is not sufficient support in his conference to move the tax credit legislation out onto the floor for a full house vote, where some backers believe it might have enough votes – between Democratic backers and Republican members – to pass.

In order to move the bill out of conference, 76 of the 150 Assembly Democrats have to be willing to vote “yes.”

Senate Republicans have already passed a version of the tax credit, and there is speculation that the issue could be linked by Cuomo to renewal and strengthening of the NYC rent laws – a significant end-of-session priority for the Assembly Democrats – in the so-called “Big Ugly,” the ball of deals on unrelated issues that is expected to come together before lawmakers leave Albany later this month.

Assemblyman Peter Abbate, Brooklyn Democrat, expresses support for EITC. by liz_benjamin6490