AFT-MD Opposes BOAST Legislation

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Testimony

 

of

 

Ms. MArietta English



PRESIDENT

American Federation of Teachers—Maryland

 

PRESIDENT

BALTIMORE TEACHERS UNION

 

 

Before the

House Ways
and Means Committee

 

MArch 16, 2011

 

On

 

House BIll 932

Building Opportunities for All Students and Teachers (BOAST) in Maryland

Tax Credit

 

OPPOSE

 

 

 

Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to address you today. I am Marietta English, the President of the American Federation of Teachers—Maryland, and the President of the Baltimore Teachers Union. We represent more than 20,000 state and municipal workers in the state of Maryland, including  9,000 educational workers in the City of Baltimore.

 

I am here today, on behalf of these educational workers, to express our adamant opposition to House Bill 932, Building Opportunities for All Students and Teachers (BOAST) in Maryland.

 

HB 932, the BOAST Maryland Tax Credit bill, purports to provide elementary and secondary schools with a means of leveraging investments from local businesses.  Essentially, this bill would allow a business to claim a 75 percent state tax credit for donations to organizations that support K-12 public and non-public schools.

 

It is, however, “non-public” schools that are the real focus of this bill. Essentially BOAST legislation is designed to give tax breaks to wealthy contributors to nonpublic—that is to say—private schools.

 

This is not the first time this legislation has been before the Maryland legislature. Both  last year, and on two occasions previous to that, BOAST bills have been rejected by the Maryland legislature. Some still remember that, initially, BOAST was proposed for the purpose of encouraging donations to private and religious institutions.

 

In fact, in its first incarnation, only private and religious schools were to be the beneficiaries of BOAST policies, and only contributors to such schools were to be the recipients of the proposed  tax breaks or credits.  

 

Over time, that original bill’s language  has been modified  to allow donations to public schools, but essentially, the goal of this bill—allowing tax credits for contributions to private institutions—remains  the same.  What this bill says is that those who provide financial support to private, and religion-based educational institutions should receive a tax break or credit for doing so.  

 

It is not this bill’s origins or its initial intent, however, but its effects that are most objectionable. Allowing such tax credits at a time when the state faces a budget crisis will reduce the state’s general fund.

 

We know this from the experiences of states that have tried this approach. Last year, tax credit scholarships cost Arizona some $350 million in lost revenue. The BOAST program in Pennsylvania cost that state $80 million in lost revenue.  Given our state’s budget deficit, the last thing we need to do is institute a program that will drain funds from the state’s coffers.

 

Further, articles that appeared in the Arizona press  revealed that affluent students who already attended private schools were the primary beneficiaries of the program, not low- income or public school students. A study conducted by the Rand Corporation indicates that low-income students rarely benefit from these tax credit programs—if at all.

 

It was for reasons like these that BOAST legislation was rejected by the Maryland legislature last year—and rejected twice before that time.

 

 

We encourage members of the committee to show the same wisdom in these deliberations that the legislature showed last year.

 

Please give HB 932 an unfavorable report.

 

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

*East Valley/Scottsdale Tribune

 

*Arizona Republic