What You Should Know
By Senator Rev Rubén Díaz
32nd Senatorial District
You should know that even though a majority exists in the New York State Assembly to permit passage of the Parental Choice in Education bill, the Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie says the bill won’t get to the floor for a vote unless there is enough support among Democrats alone to back the bill.
This completely ignores this bill’s bipartisan success that has been championed by coalitions throughout New York State, headed by Cardinal Timothy Dolan. These coalitions include Interfaith Leaders, and more than 150 labor unions, community-based organizations, businesses and schools.
If the vote were taken today and we added up the numbers, there most certainly ARE enough votes among the Assembly’s Democrats and Republicans combined to pass the Parental Choice in Education bill - even though there are not 76 Democrats in the 150-Member chamber to support the bill. The result of this bill’s passage would help children and families – especially in our Black and Hispanic communities – to have better education resources and provide financial relief to families in our communities who need it the most.
The Assembly Speaker is even opposed to linking an extension of rent control to the passage of the Parental Choice in Education bill.
This begs the question: “Why put in jeopardy rent control which is set to expirejust because there aren’t enough Democrats to pass the Parental Choice in Education bill?”
My dear reader, there was no such opposition by the Assembly Speaker and Assembly Members to support tax credits for wealthy developers – and not even for people who wanted to buy luxury yachts and private planes. You may recall earlier this year how nicely Speaker Carl Heastie chummied up with former Senate Leader Senator Dean Skelos to justify tax breaks such as these for the wealthy to buy private planes and yachts. They both said it would be good for business and create more jobs. They were willing to give tax credits to purchase private planes and yachts, but not for parents to send their children to the school of their choice. Oh really?
You may also recall earlier this year that I wrote a column titled “All or Nothing” when the DREAM Act was linked to the Parental Choice in Education bill. I wrote:
“As you already know, the DREAM Act has been designed to help the children of undocumented parents, and undocumented students who already have earned their high school diploma or GED to receive financial assistance for college. The Education Investment Tax Credit is designed to provide a tax credit for businesses and individuals who donate money to private and parochial schools’ scholarship funds. Both of these bills offer more educational opportunities for New York’s students.”
“Speaker Carl Heastie and the Assembly know that the Assembly voted four (4) years in a row to pass the DREAM Act - to no avail - because the Senate didn't want to vote for it … Do they really want the DREAM Act to pass?”
Today, again I ask: “Why is the Assembly Speaker refusing and rejecting these opportunities that our children and their families deserve?” When the Governor wanted to pass the DREAM Act he linked it to the Education Investment Tax Credit bill, and the Assembly opposed it. Consequently killing the DREAM Act and denying the opportunity for thousands of undocumented youth.
It looks like the Speaker of the Assembly is doing the same thing to Rent Control since the Governor is also linking it to the Parental Choice in Education bill.
Ladies and gentlemen, I believe that New Yorkers elected us to represent all of them - not to cater to special interests and not to make ourselves look powerful by refusing to work in a bipartisan effort. If the Assembly allows Rent Control to expire and puts in jeopardy thousands of poor and needy residents of the City of New York, the Assembly will have no one else to blame but themselves.
The art of politics is to know how to honestly negotiate with others in order to protect and to serve the people who elected us.
This is Senator Rev. Rubén Díaz and this is what you should know.