Cardinal Dolan

Dolan: Tought Fight For Education Tax Credit

Cardinal Timothy Dolan on Tuesday acknowledged the effort to approve an education tax credit is a “tough fight” in Albany after visiting with lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a lobby day trip on Tuesday.

Dolan visited the Capitol with New York bishops to push for the tax credit, which is designed to spur donations that benefit private and public schools, as well as back the $15 minimum wage proposal.

“We want to open schools, we want to expand them,” Dolan said. “But we can’t do it, it’s so expensive.”

The tax credit has been a long-sought measure for Dolan, as the New York Diocese seeks to keep parochial schools from closing throughout the New York City area.

Cuomo has repeatedly pushed for the measure to no avail. Last year, he linked both the tax credit and the DREAM Act, which provides tuition assistance to undocumented immigrants, but both bills fell out of the budget talks.

“We do it as you well know, we do it sometimes for a half less than the public schools,” Dolan said.

Cuomo earlier in the day after speaking at a minimum wage rally called the wage effort a difficult lift for the Legislature. Assembly Democrats have raised concerns about the measure, which is also opposed by the state’s teachers unions.

“It’s a very, very tough fight. We did this last year. We tried it. It was unsuccessful,” Cuomo said. “It was a very tough fight.”

Bishops with Dolan said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie “cancelled” a meeting with the cardinal, which they attributed to the tax credit debate. Michael Whyland, a spokesman for Heastie, said there was no meeting scheduled with Dolan and the speaker had met with Dolan earlier in the yuear.

“They didn’t give us a reason,” Dolan said when asked about not meeting with Heastie. “We’re grateful that last year Speaker Heastie indicated support and we hope that’s still there.”

Dolan said Cuomo is “realistic” about the tax credit fight.

“He’s not ready to give up and Lord knows neither are we,” Dolan said. “We are going to fight hard.”

Dolan To Open Senate Session

Cardinal Timothy Dolan will open the first day of the legislative session on Wednesday in Albany for the Republican-controlled Senate, state lawmakers and legislative officials on Tuesday said.

“Cardinal Dolan was invited by Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, and happily accepted,” The New York State Catholic Conference said in a statement. “This is a pastoral visit and the cardinal does not intend to do any formal media interviews or to have substantive policy discussions with elected officials during this visit.”

Dolan last year was a key voice in the push for the education investment tax credit, which is designed to encourage donations that benefit public schools and private school scholarship programs.

The tax credit was yolked by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year to the DREAM Act, which provides tuition assistance to undocumented immigrants. Both measures ultimately fell out of the budget talks.

The tax credit’s main opposition lies in the Democratic-led Assembly, where lawmakers have expressed unease with a proposal that’s strongly opposed by the state’s teachers union.

Cuomo after the budget made a renewed push for the tax credit, though the measure ultimately died at the end of the legislative session in June.

In Video, Dolan Makes Appeal For Education Tax Credit

Cardinal Timothy Dolan in a video released on Friday makes a personal appeal for the education investment tax credit and urges supporters to email Assembly lawmakers to back the legislation.

The video comes after Dolan traveled this week to Albany to lobby legislators with Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the bill, which would provide tax credits for donations to public schools and scholarship programs that benefit private and parochial schools.

“Parents are sitting by the phone waiting for that call that they’re going to get a scholarship,” Dolan says in the video.

Dolan has long pushed for the measure as a way to help shore up the finances of struggling parochial schools.

Cuomo in May introduced his own version of the bill, the Parental Choice in Education Act.

The Republican-led Senate earlier this year approved a version of the tax credit legislation, but Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat, said this week the measure remains a difficult lift for the chamber.

DREAM Act (By Another Name) Lives?

Cardinal Timothy Dolan released a carefully worded statement this afternoon that seemed to suggest some form of the DREAM Act is very much alive as legislative leaders and the governor continue to try to hammer out a budget deal.

“We have been advocating for the Education Investment Tax Credit as a critically needed measure to help provide scholarships for families to pay tuition for children attending private and parochial schools,” Dolan said.

“At this time in Albany, there is discussion of expanding this education tax credit concept to include scholarship funding for college students in need, including those students who might not otherwise qualify for other assistance opportunities. We support this expanded concept and urge its passage.”

“Students who might not otherwise qualify for other assistance opportunities” sounds a lot to me like students who aren’t able to access state-funded programs to help pay for higher education due to their immigration status. (In other words, they’re undocumented). But Dolan, who is a DREAM Act supporter, specifically avoided any mention of the controversial legislation in his statement.

I called the state Catholic Conference spokesman Dennis Poust, who told me that during the course of negoitations “it has become clear that the framework of discussions includes some elements” of the DREAM Act. If what the four men in a room are considering is a straight expansion of the education tax credit the church has been pushing, then it would definitely apply to undocumented students, Poust said, because the bill in its current form makes no mention of immigration status.

Poust said the cardinal and the governor have been “keeping the lines of communication open,” and Dolan put out this statement because “it was felt that it would be helpful” as negotiations continue.

It had been suggested that the up to $300 million annual education tax credit could be “traded” (in budgetspeak) for the DREAM Act, which is opposed by the Senate Republicans and failed by two votes on the Senate floor last week. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said the governor had put that idea on the table, but Silver didn’t think it was “viable.”

The teachers unions have opposed the tax credit, even though supporters – like Dolan – say it will help public as well as private (and parochial) schools.

Dolan: ‘Consternation’ Over Abortion Push

Cardinal Timothy Dolan called the case of Pennsylvania abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell “naseuating” that also called into question New York’s own push for strengthening the state’s abortion laws.

Dolan, who phoned into Fred Dicker’s Talk-1300 radio show this morning, said the silver lining of the murder conviction of Gosnell is it will force more people to question the issue.

“I’d like to think that maybe this will unmake some of the horror that is obvious in this unfettered abortion on-demand culture that we’ve got,” Dolan said. “We’ve gone beyond safe, legal and rare. We’ve got now that abortion is dangerous, it’s rampant, it’s being paid for by the tax dollars of people who are opposed to it.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo backs a proposal that would enhance the state’s abortion laws by codifying the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, a provision that’s part of a larger package of bills aimed at curbing gender discrimination in housing and the workplace.

Asked if Cuomo remains a Catholic in “good standing” Dolan said he’s discussed the matter candidly with the governor.

“That’s something that we talk about and that’s something that I talk turkey with him about,” Dolan said.

But the reproductive rights measure has become a flashpoint for those opposed to abortion, including Catholic groups and some Senate Republicans.

“I am at a bit of consternation as to why at a time when there seems to be a sobbering up at the horrors of unfettered access to abortion why in New York we’re talking about even expanding it further,” Dolan said in the interview.

Dolan even echoed much of what has been said by Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos, who has said he would not allow a vote on the measure.

Dolan questioned why the codification was even needed, given there’s little chance of abortion rights in New York from being stripped away.

“I don’t know of anybody in the state of New York who feels there right to an abortion is threatened,” he said. “It’s available evrywhere So I don’t know why we feel like we’re gibving time and attention to an area of the state that needs improvement or extension.”

And, like Skelos, Dolan indicated support for the remaining 9 points in the women’s agenda, which includes anti-domestic abuse measures and a proposal to crack down on human trafficking.

“Of that wider act with the 10 points, we’re in his corner with most of them,” he said. “In fact, nine out of 10 we are. It’s just that one about the expansion of abortion that really causes us and pause and says, ‘Please, that’s the last thing this state needs.'”

Dolan To Deliver Closing Prayer at DNC

Cardial Timothy Dolan will be making an appearance at both conventions.

He was already slated to deliver the closing prayer at the Republican Convention on Thursday. Now he will do the same for the Democrats on Thursday of their convention next week.

“Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, has accepted an invitation to deliver the closing prayer at next week’s Democratic National Convention. As was previously announced, he will also be offering the closing prayer at the Republican Convention on Thursday of this week,” said Joseph Zwilling spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York.

It was made clear to the Democratic Convention organizers, as it was to the Republicans, that the Cardinal was coming solely as a pastor, only to pray, not to endorse any party, platform, or candidate. The Cardinal consulted Bishop Peter Jugis of the Diocese of Charlotte, who gave the Cardinal his consent to take part in the convention that will be taking place in his diocese.”

Traditionally the Bishop in the host city has delivered a closing prayer, but in both instances the Bishop’s have stepped aside for Cardinal Dolan.

Dolan’s original acceptance of an invitation to speak at the RNC caused concern for the Democrats, because Dolan has been at odds with the Obama administration over their policy of requiring religious organizations and businesses to provide contraception to employees as part of the Affordable Care Act. The Catholic Church argues that it is an infringement on their 1st Amendment rights.

It will be interesting to see if Dolan, who is incredibly politically savoy, weaves any political wisdom into his speeches. The official stance from the Archdiocese of New York has been that the church doesn’t endorse a candidate, and they made it clear when they accepted the RNC invitation that he’d also accept one from the DNC.

Dolan Blasts Obama Admin For Healthcare Mandate (Updated)

The Department of Health and Human Services announced today that they are going to move ahead with a new mandate requiring most employers to to cover contraception for female employees free of charge as part of their health plans. The mandate does not have an exemption for religious institutions like Catholic hospitals – which has left the Catholic Church understandbly upset, but also baffled.

NY Archbishop and Cardinal-Designate Timothy Dolan described the move as, “the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences.”

Dolan, who is also the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, went on to say the move was “unconscionable” and that it “represents a challenge and a compromise of our religious liberty.”

Dolan, and the Church, is calling for HHS to reverse their decision.

“The Obama administration has now drawn an unprecedented line in the sand,” he said. “The Catholic bishops are committed to working with our fellow Americans to reform the law and change this unjust regulation. We will continue to study all the implications of this troubling decision.”

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who happens to be a catholic, issued a statement today saying the department would continue to work closely with religious groups to discuss their concerns.

Update: Family Planning Advocates of NYS just sent out a note applauding the HHS decision, that included this excerpt below suggesting that most Catholic women are actually in favor of this effort.

The birth control coverage benefit is one of the most popular provisions in the Affordable Care Act. According to a Hart Research poll, 71 percent of American voters, including 77 percent of Catholic women voters, support the benefit that health plans cover prescription birth control at no cost. And a May 2011 Thomson Reuters-NPR Health poll found that 77 percent of Americans believe that private medical insurance should provide no-cost birth control.

ICYMI: Dolan On The Today Show

New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan conducted his first interview after being named a new Cardinal this morning on NBC’s The Today Show. As always he was in a chipper mood, cracking jokes and telling stories.

“The only Cardinal I ever wanted to be growing up was Stan Musial,” Dolan, a St. Louis native, said during the interview. (Musial was a Hall of Fame outfielder for the Cardinals). At the end of the interview, NBC’s Matt Lauer gave Dolan a Cardinals pennant as a present.

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