Speaker Turzai, Fellow Bipartisan Legislators Introduce Expanded Tax Credit Scholarships for Students
– Looking to expand school opportunities for students, legislation was introduced today by Speaker of the House Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) to expand the state’s very successful public-private partnership education tax credit program.
House Bill 250
will increase the amount of tax credits available under the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program by $50 million (to $175 million) and the amount of tax credits available under the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) program by $25 million (to $75 million) to grow opportunities for parents to make better school choices and help more students escape from failing schools.
The two programs open access to good private schools by allowing businesses to claim a tax credit for donations to scholarship funds for low- and middle-income children. More than 40,000 students benefit from the EITC and OSTC programs each year through educational scholarship organizations, which provide scholarships for students to attend non-public schools. Additionally, the program assists countless Pennsylvania students in traditional public schools through the Educational Improvement Organizations portion of the tax credits made available each year, which support innovative educational programs that enhance the regular school curriculum.
“Families who want better school choice opportunities but cannot afford them have found the educational improvement and opportunity scholarships to be positively life-changing,” Turzai said. “Parochial schools and other private schools have played a responsible role in helping to educate our children along with our public schools. These tax credit scholarships supplement the billions of dollars we spend on public education in providing opportunities for our youngest citizens.”
“The EITC program is a win-win opportunity for students across Pennsylvania who, thanks to the program, are able to attend schools their parents otherwise would not be able to afford,” Rep. Joanna McClinton (D-Philadelphia/Delaware) said. “Providing scholarships directly to students has benefited families and produced great results in Philadelphia and across the state.”
“Pennsylvania is home to a diverse student population and a one-size-fits-all approach to basic education does not work for everyone,” Rep. Tom Quigley (R-Montgomery) said. “This proposed expansion of the EITC program is about allowing businesses to partner with parents, public schools and other educational institutions to provide options to students and families. It is a proven program that has been effective at allowing children to excel academically.”
"As we work to ensure every Pennsylvanian has access to high-quality educational opportunities, supporting programs like the EITC and OSTC opens the door for students that may otherwise be closed," Rep. Bill Keller (D-Philadelphia) said. "I'm glad we can begin this effort in a bipartisan manner and look forward to working together across the aisle and around the state."
“The EITC and OSTC programs are perfect examples of successful private-public partnerships,” Rep. Matt Gabler (R-Clearfield/Elk Counties) said. “Companies participating in this program provide exciting educational options for Pennsylvania families and make it possible for students to attend the schools that best meet their needs. Without question, the EITC and OSTC programs have had profoundly positive impacts on countless students' lives. This expansion will empower even more students to achieve their full potential.”
“Every child deserves a high-quality education, and this legislation will help make that a reality for children across Philadelphia and the state,” Rep. Jordan Harris (D-Philadelphia) said. “The EITC and OSTC programs help families, who otherwise would have little choice in their child’s schooling, ensure their kids have a quality education – regardless of zip code.”
The proposed legislation would increase the amount of tax credits available under both the EITC and OSTC programs. First, it would further expand the amount of available EITC tax credits by $50 million, with the increase allocated proportionally among scholarship organizations, educational improvement organizations and pre-kindergarten scholarship organizations. Second, it would increase the amount of available OSTC tax credits by $25 million. The OSTC program, which was created by the General Assembly in 2012, is targeted only at students in “low-achieving schools,” those in the lowest 15 percent of their designation as elementary or secondary. It provides scholarships in a similar manner to the EITC program.
While the General Assembly constantly seeks to improve academic outcomes for all children, low- and middle-income kids should not be trapped in under-performing schools, and the EITC and OSTC scholarships provide families educational opportunities for success.
For a student to be eligible to receive a scholarship under the EITC or OSTC program, the student’s family must satisfy certain income and residence requirements.
“These scholarships help low- and middle-income families choose the best educational setting for their children while also providing critical funding for innovative programs in our public schools that might otherwise not be funded,” Rep. Dan Deasy (D-Allegheny) said. “Through EITC/OSTC, Pennsylvania’s corporate community has shown itself to be a willing partner in supporting the state’s educational system and our greatest asset – our children.”
“By allowing parents, not systems, to choose what’s best for their children, these tax credits ensure children of all backgrounds are afforded a quality education,” Rep. Marguerite Quinn (R-Bucks) said. “EITC has been a truly successful scholarship program, and its expansion would create greater opportunities for our children.”
Representative Mike Turzai
Speaker of the House
Pennsylvania House of Representatives