Catholics are being encouraged to show their support for a bill that would help families meet the educational expenses of their children in kindergarten through grade 12 in private and public schools.
The Catholic Conference of Kentucky supports House Bill 149, which would create an Education Opportunity Account program. It’s similar to a scholarship tax credit program, which the CCK has supported in years past, said Andrew Vandiver, associate director of the CCK, which represents the state’s bishops on matters of public policy.
Under HB 149, individuals and businesses would receive a tax credit for donating to certain nonprofits, such as the Catholic Education Foundation that provides need-based tuition assistance. These non-profits would provide financial aid to families that have education expenses, such as tuition, tutoring or therapies for special needs.
Vandiver is hopeful the legislation will pass this year, especially if supportive families reach out to their lawmakers, he said.
“Nearly every state lawmaker that we have talked to has said that this will be the year that educational choice passes in Kentucky. They have heard the voices of families loud and clear that it is time for HB 149 to become law,” he said. “But we cannot sit back and wait. It was just reported this week that opponents spent nearly $75,000 in the month of January alone in an effort to block HB 149 from a vote.
“Parents and other supporters need to continue calling and emailing their lawmakers over the next week,” he said. “We may not have the same resources that they have, but we do stand with the vast majority of Kentuckians who want more choices for their children.”
Vandiver noted that the conference belongs to the EdChoice Ky coalition, whose most recent poll showed 63 percent of Kentucky voters support Education Opportunity Accounts. The poll was conducted in early February by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy, Inc.
“That poll came out after they (opponents) spent all that money” in January, Vandiver said. “What we find is that when people get an accurate description of the bill they support it because they want their kids to have choices. The wealthy get those choices, why can’t they?”
House Bill 149 is currently in the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee. The CCK urges Catholics to put their faith into action by contacting their lawmakers at the legislative message line: 1-800-372-7181. An operator can send a message to the legislators based on the caller’s address.