Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Though snubbed by Women's March, pro-life groups still participate
Mary Solitario, 21, center, a Catholic from Virginia, joins a pro-life demonstration outside the U.S. Supreme Court prior to the Women's March on Washington Jan. 21. (CNS photo/Bob Roller) WASHINGTON...

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'We will be protected by God,' Trump declares in inaugural address
U.S. President Donald Trump places his hand on the Bible as he takes the oath of office administered by U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts Jan. 20. (CNS photo/Carlos Barria, Reuters) WASHINGTON (CNS) -...

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Knights' annual Mass celebrates all human life
Written by Mary Chalupsky
Archbishop Leonard P. Blair stands with the Hunter family of Wallingford following the annual Pro-life Mass on Jan. 15 at St. Mary Church in New Haven.  Shown are dad Jacob, holding Jude; mom Sar...

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Archbishop Blair among faith leaders honoring Martin Luther King Jr.
Written by Mary Chalupsky
Faith leaders, including Archbishop Leonard P. Blair and Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Peter A. Rosazza gather with Rabbi Herbert Brockman before an interfaith service at Congregation Mishkan Israel in Ha...

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McDonald's near Vatican to give free meals to the poor
A worker crosses the street with her bike outside the newly opened McDonald's near the Vatican Jan. 12. The McDonald's will collaborate with Italian aid organization, "Medicinia Solidale," and the pap...

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Magi's journey reflects our longing for God, pope says on Epiphany
Reenactors dressed as soldiers participate in the annual parade marking the feast of the Epiphany in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Jan. 6. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Magi h...

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 Though snubbed by Women's March, pro-life groups still participate
Though snubbed by Women's March, pro-life groups still participate
'We will be protected by God,' Trump declares in inaugural address
'We will be protected by God,' Trump declares in inaugural address
Knights' annual Mass celebrates all human life
Knights' annual Mass celebrates all human life
Archbishop Blair among faith leaders honoring Martin Luther King Jr.
Archbishop Blair among faith leaders honoring Martin Luther King Jr.
McDonald's near Vatican to give free meals to the poor
McDonald's near Vatican to give free meals to the poor
Magi's journey reflects our longing for God, pope says on Epiphany
Magi's journey reflects our longing for God, pope says on Epiphany

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During the waning days of the legislative session, the Connecticut House of Representatives blindly rejected an amendment that would have created a tax credit for corporations that donate to scholarship programs. This is the first school choice vote considered by the Connecticut General Assembly in 18 years.

The amendment, which was offered by Rep. Christopher Coutu (R-Norwich), failed mostly along party lines by a 98 to 44 vote (Republicans favored the proposal). The proposal was co-sponsored by almost 50 members of the House and Senate. Adding to the disappointment was the fact that some members of the House changed their votes at the last minute, voting against the measure when it appeared the proposal would fail.

The amendment was offered on S.B. 438, An Act Concerning Charter Schools, which contained provisions to change parental involvement in failing public schools and would have created significant changes to state education laws by setting higher standards for student and teacher achievement. All of this was done in the slim hope of Connecticut’s receiving federal money in the second round of the United States Department of Education’s Race to the Top funding. The reforms implemented for Race to the Top could cost the taxpayers of Connecticut between $13 and $20 million. During the first round of Race to the Top grants, only two states were provided grants and Connecticut’s application wasn’t even named in the group of Round 1 finalists.

The proposed amendment would have created a pilot program allowing "C" corporations and other companies to donate money to a scholarship fund. The program would have provided tuition assistance to students seeking to attend a private or religious school. There would have been a statewide cap of $500,000 for the tax credits. Donations would have been capped at $50,000 and the donor business would have received a 70 percent tax credit.

Scholarships would have been granted to children whose family income does not exceed 250 percent of the income requirements of the federal poverty line. (A family of four would need an income of less than $55,125 per year.) Only students entering kindergarten or transferring to a private or religious school would be eligible for the scholarship. Scholarships to attend a private or religious school could not exceed $2,500, or 60 percent of tuition.

Residents from the following cities and towns would have been eligible for the scholarship: Bridgeport, Bristol, Danbury, Hartford, Hamden, New Britain, New Haven, Norwich, New London and Waterbury.

The expenses for this program would have been covered by using $500,000 from the taxpayer-funded mailing program used by members of the Connecticut General Assembly.

Seven states – Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island – allow a tax credit for corporations which donate to a scholarship fund. In these seven states, a tax credit program allowed more than 75,000 students to attend a private or religious school, with more than $188 million being provided in scholarship funds in 2009. Many of these states also qualified to compete in the first round of Race to the Top grants.

It should be noted that private and religious schools in Connecticut save the taxpayers more than $700 million a year. However, during the past 10 years, 20 private and religious schools have closed, and attendance has declined by 8,000 students. This influx of students into our public schools has placed an enormous financial burden on our local municipalities and costs Connecticut taxpayers as much as $120 million.

Approximately 2,000 teaching jobs are set to be eliminated in June across the state. Additionally, eight private or religious schools have closed in the past two years. This will lead to overcrowding of public schools and it is another issue that will impact Connecticut’s education system.

The proposal would not only have provided the opportunity for more inner-city youth to attend a quality school, it would have relieved a burden placed on many public schools. That is why so many inner-city mayors support this plan, including the mayors of Bridgeport, New Britain, New Haven and Waterbury.

The Connecticut Federation of Catholic School Parents has been actively pursuing this issue as part of its legislative agenda for the past three years and we have made significant progress. We look forward to working with a new governor and legislature in 2011.

If you would like to see how your representative voted, please visit the Connecticut Federation of Catholic School Parents’ Web site at www.ctfcsp.org.

John L. Cattelan is the director of the Connecticut Federation of Catholic School Parents.