By Andrew J. Vandiver
In Kentucky, wealthy families can choose the classroom that best meets their children’s needs regardless of whether it is in a public or nonpublic school. Low and middle income families often lack the resources for the same opportunity. That is why House Education Committee Chair Representative Bam Carney of Campbellsville and State Senator Ralph Alvarado of Winchester filed legislation (HB 162 and SB 102) that would create a scholarship tax credit program in Kentucky.
Scholarship tax credits help level the playing field for all Kentucky families. The program would establish a nonrefundable tax credit for individuals and businesses who donate to scholarship funds for Kentucky families so that they can afford the cost of nonpublic school tuition or other important educational services.
In his recent apostolic exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” (“The Joy of Love”), Pope Francis set forth that education is the “primary right” of parents. This is not simply a task for the parents to accomplish, but rather an “essential and inalienable right.” The government’s role is to support parents in the exercise of this right, not to replace them. While the government offers educational opportunities, “parents themselves enjoy the right to choose freely the kind of education — accessible and of good quality — which they wish to give their children in accordance with their convictions.”
In accordance with these principles, the Catholic Conference of Kentucky has joined with a broad coalition of educators, parents and business leaders who are working diligently to bring a scholarship tax credit program to Kentucky. We will be spending the months of February and March advocating for this issue in the state capitol.
As a Catholic and citizen of the Commonwealth, you have a critical role to play in passing this legislation. State lawmakers need to hear that their constituents support this legislation and want it prioritized during the 2017 Session of the Kentucky General Assembly. You can reach your state representative and state senator by calling the Legislative Message Line at 1-800-372-7181 (1-866-840-6574 for Spanish). If you do not know your state legislators, the operator on the line will assist you in getting the message to the correct representative and senator.
The time has come for Kentucky to join the 30 states across the country that create opportunities for families who need a nonpublic school option for their children. Your voice will make a difference for Kentucky families. Please call your state representative and state senator today and ask them to support scholarship tax credit bills HB 162 and SB 102.
Andrew J. Vandiver is the associate director of the Catholic Conference of Kentucky. He blogs at https://oldmanmillennial.blogspot.com.