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New Tuition Credit Bill Hailed

February 25, 1981
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

— Rabbi Moshe Sherer, president of the Agudath Israel of America, hailed the announcement today that a new tuition credit bill was being introduced in the Senate Finance Committee, adding that the Orthodox agency’s nationwide campaign to win support for passage of the measure was being accelerated.

The announcement was made this morning at a press conference in Washington in the Senate building at which the co-sponsors of the bill, Senators Patrick Moynihan (D. N. Y.) and Robert Packwood (R. Ore.), explained the bill’s purpose. Sen. William Roth (R. Del.) also attended the press conference.

Packwood said at the press conference that he had spoken to President Reagan and members of his administrative staff and that they had indicated to him that they support “this bill.”

Rabbi Menachem Lubinsky, Agudath Israel director of government and public affairs, who attended the press conference, said it was also announced that a companion bill, co-sponsored by Representatives Guy Vander Jagt (R. Mich.) and William Cotter (D. Conn.) would be introduced in the House shortly.

An “urgent appeal” to American Jews to support the legislation was made by Prof. Larry Katz, chairman of the Campaign to Relieve Independent Education (CRIE). Sherer said CRIE is a special project established by Agudath Israel recently to work for passage of the Moynihan-Packwood bill. CRIE consists of a network of state coordinators and committees in 30 states, he said.


Katz, dean of the Baltimore University Law School, said the Moynihan-Packwood bill would permit parents of children attending nonpublic schools to claim a tax credit for tuition. He said the credit would be calculated at the rate of 50 percent of the tuition paid by the taxpaper to one or more eligible schools for himself, his spouse or any of his dependents.

Katz said that, under the bill, the credit would amount to $250 by August, 1982 for fulltime undergraduate college, vocational, elementary and secondary students and would be raised to $500 by August, 1983. The credits would apply for each eligible student.

Nothing that the measure was introduced in Congress several times in the past and was voted on most recently in 1978, Katz said the Jewish community should rally behind Congressional approval at this time more than ever before. He said that the financial plight of the middle class and lower-income parents has become acute, adding that “tuition tax credits would be only a small measure to relieve the enormous burdens particularly peculiar to Orthodox Jews because of skyrocketing costs for such items as kosher foods.”

Katz also declared that tuition tax credits was “not only a fundamental issue for America because it involves freedom of choice in education, but for Jews it takes on added importance because this is an opportunity for one Jew to help another.”

He added that of the 100,000 children estimated to be attending Jewish day schools nationally, a large number come from large families which are desperate for any measure of relief from “the ravages of inflation.”


Sherer said Agudath Israel has been working closely with the United States Catholic Conference and other pro-tuition organizations in coordinating its campaign. He said Agudath Israel was committing a great deal of its resources because “it is optimistic that tuition tax credits will pass this time around.”

He said the organization based its optimism on the “favorable climate” he said had been generated for such legislation following last November’s election. He said both President Reagan and Vice President George Bush are in favor of tuition tax credits.

Sherer also referred to encouragement based on the new conservative Congress, noting that of the 62 Senators who voted for tuition tax credits in 1978, 35 voted in favor. He said Agudath Israel was hopeful that many of the new conservative Senators, who supported tuition tax credits during the 1980 election campaign, would provide the added measure of support required for passage.

He said that in the House, of the 235 members who served in 1978, 144 voted for the measure in 1978 and that “the profile” on new Representatives indicated that a large number favor tuition tax credits.


In a related development, Rabbi Bernard Goldenberg, chairman of the executive staff of Torah Umesorah, the National Society for Hebrew Day Schools, said he attended a luncheon meeting in Washington on Feb. 19 for which Terrel Bell, the new Secretary of Education, was host. Others attending the luncheon included representatives of major non-public school organizations, representing independent schools, Catholic parochial schools, Lutheran schools and the Council for American Private Education (CAPE). Goldenberg is immediate past president of CAPE.

Goldenberg said the tuition tax credit proposal was one of the topics discussed at the luncheon. He said Bell favors the proposal.

Goldenberg, in reporting on the luncheon meeting said inflation and rising tuition fees were forcing lower-income and middle class parents out of the Hebrew day school system, making “a mockery” of the concept of choice in education. He said “American society cannot allow private education to be a haven only for the rich.”

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