commoncoreA group that pushed for the education investment tax credit spent more than $5 million on the effort, according to a report from lobbying and ethics regulators released on Thursday.

The report, which examined lobbying data for the first half 2015 in New York, found the Coalition For Opportunity In Education was the top-spending entity during the legislative session. The group sought the approval of a tax credit that is aimed at spurring donations to public schools and scholarship programs that benefit private and parochial schools.

Ultimately, the tax credit stalled in the state budget and later on the legislative session, despite a strong push by Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

The report found that overall the top lobbying entities spent $23.4 million during the first six months the year. Total lobbying spending accounted for some $131 million between January and June 2014.

But the entity was just one of several education-oriented groups that spent heavily on trying to influence legislation as issues ranging from teacher evaluations to charter school expansion stoked debate at the Capitol.

The report found the New York State United Teachers, the umbrella group for the state’s teachers unions, spent the second-highest amount, $3.8 million.

NYSUT was opposed to the tax credit, but the labor union had its hands full on other key issues, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s effort to once again overhaul teacher evaluations, weaken teacher tenure laws and strengthen charter schools in addition to the perennial push for more school aid.

But while NYSUT has spent heavily over the years to advance its causes, the pro-tax credit coalition indicated its spending in part provided a counterweight.

“We’re just leveling a playing field that’s been dominated by one side of education argument for decades,” said Bob Bellafiore, a spokesman for the Coalition For Opportunity In Education.

Another education-oriented group aligned with Cuomo’s education policies, Students First NY, spent $2.2 million. Families For Excellent Schools Advocacy, a pro-charter organization, as well as its companion organization Families For Excellent Schools, Inc., spent a combined $2.3 million, the report found.

But education wasn’t the only major issue discussed. Groups pushing for the extension of and changes to the 421a tax abatement in New York City also spent big.

New York City and Vicinity Carpenters Labor Management spent the third highest amount, $3 million. Putting New Yorkers To Work spent $1.8 million, while the Greater NY Laborers-Employers Coop spent $1.2 million.

The top lobbyist for the first half of the year in total compensation and billings was Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP, which reported $5.4 million. Runner-up: Kaiser Consulting, which reported $4.1 million.

FINAL – 2015 Mid-Year Lobbying Data 101515 by Nick Reisman