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Del. Catholic advocacy group seeks support for state subsidies


Possible budget cuts to programs that help parents of private school children in Delaware would threaten school children’s health and safety, according to the Delaware Catholic Advocacy Network (DCAN).

The advocacy group, in a May 26 statement sent to its members and posted on the Diocese of Wilmington’s website, is asking Catholics to lobby state senators, representatives and Gov. Jack Markell to retain transportation subsidies for nonpublic school parents and continue funding a school nurse subsidy for private schools.

The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) of the Delaware Legislature has placed both subsidies “on hold” as it plans the 2016 fiscal year budget. “On hold” doesn’t mean the funding will be cut, DCAN notes, but the subsidies “could” be cut.

Discussions in Dover concerning revenue measures are ongoing, DCAN said. The group said there was a desire by members of the committee to restore the funding but, “we just need to make sure that we are weighing in.”

DCAN’s statement notes that if the subsidies aren’t included, “families who sacrifice to send their children to Catholic schools in Delaware” could lose their small transportation reimbursements and also “see really high tuition fees” increased, so schools can pay for school nurses.

Catholic school families, who pay the same taxes public-school families pay, save Delaware “over $100 million each year” that would be spent by the state if their children were in public schools, according to DCAN.

“A modest school nursing subsidy to ensure the health and safety of our children and small transportation reimbursement is not too much to ask in return,” the DCAN statement added.

Last year, the state budget included $1,374,000 for nonpublic school transportation reimbursement. That funding was eliminated in the governor’s proposed 2016 budget but its fate this year rests on the JFC’s decision, according to DCAN.

Likewise, the JFC will also decide if a $562,000 nursing subsidy to nonpublic schools is scrapped or not in the new budget.

DCAN asked its members to contact members of the Delaware Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee to ask them to keep the subsidies in the FY2016 budget.

Following is the DCAN list of JFC members and their contact information:

Rep. Melanie George Smith (chair) email: melanie.g.smith@ state.de.us

Sen. Harris McDowell (co-chair) email: harris.mcdowell@ state. de.us

Rep. J.J. Johnson email: jj.johnson@state.de.us

Rep. Deborah Heffernan email: debra.heffernan@state.de.us

Rep. William Carson email: william.carson@state.de.us

Rep. Joe Miro email: joseph.miro@state.de.us

Rep. Harvey Kenton email: harvey.kenton@state.de.us

Sen. Brian Bushweller email: brian.bushweller@state.de.us

Sen. Bruce Ennis email: bruce.ennis@state.de.us

Sen. Karen Peterson email: karen.peterson@state.de.us

Sen. Catherine Cloutier email: catherine.cloutier@state.de.us

Sen. David Lawson email: dave.lawson@state.de.us