Assemblyman Schnall Pledges To Keep Fighting For Nonpublic School Parents Despite Major Setback

Legislation that aimed to channel public funds to private schools has been withdrawn from consideration, marking a significant setback for Askanim who have been working for the better part of a decade for such a program in New Jersey, where public education lobbyists practically rule Trenton.

State Sen. Vin Gopal, the top Senate sponsor of the legislation, pulled the bill (NJ S3035) on Monday, citing concerns from stakeholders and a desire for continued collaboration.

The proposed legislation would permit taxpayers, including individuals and corporations, to make donations to “student support organizations” that provide scholarships for students to attend private and parochial schools. In return, taxpayers would receive a tax credit equivalent to 75% of their donation. The bill stipulates that the state would allocate a maximum of $37.5 million in tax credits annually.

To be eligible, a family’s income could not exceed 2.6 times the federal guidelines for reduced school lunch, which would be $126,000 for a family of four. Additionally, the bill requires the state to appropriate an additional $37.5 million in funding for underprivileged districts.

The legislation also explicitly states that its provisions should not “supersede, impact, or interfere” with the full funding of traditional public schools. However, public education advocates, including the Education Law Center, fiercely opposed the bill, labeling it a “voucher money-laundering scheme.” In an open letter, they insisted that such programs could “decimate” public education systems, as seen in other states.

While Sen. Gopal has no plans to reintroduce the bill, co-sponsor Assemblyman Avi Schnall vowed to continue pushing for similar legislation.

“If this piece of legislation wasn’t the right piece at the right time, we’ll continue to march on and find the right moment and ability to do it,” Schnall told Politico. “Those who believe in the cause believe in the cause, and we will continue to do whatever we can to promote and support a parent’s choice in their child’s education.”

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