STATE OF THE STATES: Religious School Aid Battles Around The Country.

Author:Boston, Rob

Action on vouchers or other types of religious school aid is expected across the country this year, according to Americans United States Legislative Coordinator Reese Aaron Isbell. In addition to Florida, Illinois and Pennsylvania, here are some of the states AU is monitoring:

Idaho: The state's new Republican governor, Dick Kempthorne, has announced support for a tuition tax credit proposal. The plan would allow any person or corporation who pays state income tax to donate toward the cost of a child's private or home education and receive a tax credit for the entire amount given.

Indiana: A new well-heeled voucher group has been formed, the Greater Education Opportunity Foundation. It is headed by longtime voucher activist Kevin Teasley, who chaired California's unsuccessful voucher ballot initiative in 1993.

Maryland: The Roman Catholic hierarchy has been pushing for textbook subsidies and technology aid for several years. Another effort is expected in 1999.

Massachusetts: The Becket Fund, a Catholic-oriented right-wing legal organization, is suing in federal court to have state constitutional provisions barring tax aid to religious schools declared unconstitutional. The group argues that the language is anti-Catholic.

Michigan: A pro-voucher group is trying to win a spot on the 2000 ballot for an amendment that would change the state constitution to allow vouchers.

Minnesota: Republicans in the legislature are expected to push for converting the state's tuition tax deduction program, which benefits primarily private school patrons, into tuition tax credits, a more direct form of aid. However, Gov. Jesse Ventura (Reform Party) opposes vouchers, as well as tuition tax credits.

Missouri: Some lawmakers are pushing a constitutional amendment to repeal Article I, Section 7, of the Missouri Constitution, which bars taxpayer aid to sectarian schools.

Nebraska: The state's Catholic bishops have announced another push for tuition tax credits. The issue has been raised repeatedly in Nebraska's unicameral legislature in recent years.

North Dakota: The State Association of Non-Public Schools has announced a drive for tuition tax credits.

Ohio: A group of Republican lawmakers has proposed expanding Cleveland's pilot voucher program to the entire state.

New York: Fourteen religious leaders have pulled together to pressure New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and the New York City Council to institute a "pilot" voucher program. The effort is being...

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