There’s plenty of money getting tossed around in the education tax-credit bill fight in Albany, with 10 state legislators from the Lower Hudson Valley receiving campaign contributions in 2012 and 2013 from the Educational Fund, the political action committee financed by seven wealthy New Yorkers.
State Sen. David Carlucci, D-New City, who announced on Friday he would no longer sponsor the bill, received the most: $10,500, according to campaign finance records. New filings will be released Wednesday. The Fund handed out about $280,000 in 2012 and 2013.
The bill – detailed in my front page Sunday story - will allow taxpayers to target up to 75 percent of their state tax-liability to a scholarship fund for private and parochial schools, or to a public school or its nonprofit foundation.
The amount of the tax-credit would be capped at $1.25 million – 5 percent of the $250 million in tax-credits to be available, on a first-come, first-serve basis, according to Senate bill 4099. There is no income limit for the families of recipients of the private-school scholarships, funded by the tax credits.
Co-sponsoring the bill has its rewards. Senate sponsors include state Sen. George Latimer, D-Rye, who received $4,000, and state Sen. state Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson, D-Mount Vernon, who got $1,500. Assembly sponsors include Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, D-Mount Vernon, $1,000 and Assemblyman Steve Otis, D-Rye, $700.
Leadership helps as well. State Sen. Jeff Klein, D-Bronx, whose district includes parts of Pelham and Mount Vernon, leads the Independent Democratic Caucus, and serves as President Pro Tempore of the New York State Senate. He received $6,500 while the Independent Democratic Initiative received $25,000. State Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers, Democratic Conference Leader, received $4,000.
The biggest donations were given to state Sen. David Carlucci, D-New City, who received $10,500. Carlucci on Friday said he had removed his name from the bill as a co-sponsor.
Other legislators receiving donations include state Sen. Greg Ball, $2,500, R-Patterson, Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale, $600; Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, D-Mount Pleasant, $350; and Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer, D-Yonkers, $250. Paulin is among the Westchester legislators who opposes the bill.
The only Lower Hudson Valley sponsor of the tax-credit bill to not receive any donations was Assemblyman Steve Katz, R-Yorktown.
The educational tax-credit movement has also made in-roads with the Westchester County Democratic Committee, which received $5,000 from the Educational Fund.
There were among 37 state Senators and 72 Assembly members who had received campaign donations from the fund. Other top recipients included state Sen. Marty Golden, R-Brooklyn, the bill’s Senate sponsor, $11,500; state Sen. Diane Savino, an IDC member, $8,500; state Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, $7,000; state Sen. Tom Libous, R-Binghamton, $6,000; and Republican Senate leader Dean Skelos, R-Rockville Center, $3,300.
Opposition has largely come from New York Democrats, so the Fund has targeted Democrats with significant financial support in hopes of backing the bill’s supporters, or swaying those who have yet to sign on. Top Assembly recipients included the bill sponsor, Assemblyman Michael Cusick, D-Staten Island, $3,500; Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, $3,000; John McDonald, D-Cohoes, $4,000; and Victor Pichardo, D-Bronx, $4,000; and Denny Farrell, D-Manhattan, $3,000.
Democratic organization were also targeted by the Educational Fund. They include the Kings County Democratic Committee, $10,000; Bronx County Democratic Committee, $10,000; and New York County Democratic Committee, $7,500.
Meanwhile the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee was lavished with $46,500 in donations. The NY State Senate Republican Campaign Committee got $11.500 while the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee collected $25,500, campaign records show.