Today, the Maryland legislature may vote on a bill that would provide direct funding to Catholic schools.
SB 385, which formerly proposed tax credits for tuition expenditures at religious and other private schools, was altered Saturday night by the House Ways and Means subcommittee to provide $10 million in direct grants to private schools.
The measure, originally called the Building Opportunities for All Students and Teachers (BOAST) in Maryland Tax Credit, has since been renamed the Grant Program for Non-Public Schools At-Risk of Closing. The new version requires that in order for a private school to be eligible, it must have been in the same location for 25 years, have experienced a decline in enrollment of at least 10 percent over the past five years and must charge a relatively low tuition.
In other words – the only private schools that will receive funding through this bill are Catholic schools. The language is so specific that it even excludes funding to Jewish schools in the state.
For years, Maryland has introduced tax-credit bills to support parochial schools, but this year, the legislature has given the proposal extra attention because the Archdiocese of Baltimore recently announced it may have to close 13 schools due to declining enrollment.
It’s bad enough that the Maryland General Assembly has considered private school tax credits in the past, but this is taking it much too far.
The government has no business directly funneling tax money to religious schools. Not to mention that the Supreme Court has ruled that it is unconstitutional for the government to make direct payments to sectarian institutions.
It’s clear the Maryland legislature, if it passes this bill, would be unconstitutionally favoring one particular religious group. That’s unacceptable.
Americans United is asking for your help to put a stop to this government bailout for Catholic schools. This session of the Maryland legislature ends tonight at midnight so we are asking those who live in Maryland to voice opposition to this bill by contacting your delegate and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley as soon as possible.