Turzai Applauds Broad Bipartisan Support to Expand Tax Credit Programs for Student Opportunity Scholarships
3/16/2017
HARRISBURG – By a broad bipartisan vote of 147-39, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed legislation that would expand the state’s successful tax credit educational opportunity scholarships. House Bill 250, sponsored by Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny), takes a vital step in improving the lives of thousands of young people.

“Families who want educational opportunities – to attend non-public schools or to participate in afterschool educational enhancement activities – but cannot afford them have found the educational improvement and opportunity scholarships to be positively life-changing,” Turzai said.

The Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) provide children from low- and middle-income families with access to non-public schools and afterschool educational enhancement activities. As part of the programs, businesses get tax credits in exchange for voluntary contributions to organizations that fund various educational scholarship opportunities or innovative educational activities.

More than 40,000 students benefit from EITC and OSTC each year through educational scholarship organizations, which provide scholarships for students to attend these non-public schools. Additionally, EITC assists countless Pennsylvania students in traditional public schools through the Educational Improvement Organizations portion of the tax credits, which support innovative educational programs that enhance the regular school curriculum.

House Bill 250 would provide tax credits in the total amount of $250 million for EITC and OSTC combined, up from $175 million. EITC would now provide $175 million in tax credits, up from $125 million. EITC’s $175 million in total tax credits would include $105 million for kindergarten through 12th grade scholarship organizations, $17.5 million for pre-K scholarship organizations and $52.5 million for educational improvement organizations which provide educational enhancement activities at public schools. OSTC would now provide $75 million in tax credits, up from $50 million.

“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 EITC and OSTC programs are perfect examples of successful private-public partnerships,” Rep. Matt Gabler (R-Clearfield/Elk) 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.”

“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 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, Delaware County and across the state.”

“EITC and OSTC are great programs for students, and benefit both nonpublic and public schools. They allow children to attend the school of their choice,” Rep. James Santora (R-Delaware) said. “Public schools receive benefits in multiple ways. Programs they cannot offer can be offered with EITC funds and students attending nonpublic schools because they are receiving EITC/OSTC scholarships are alleviating some of the issues of overcrowding in public school classrooms and schools.”

“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.”

“The dollars have brought a great deal of education opportunities into communities all across our Commonwealth,” Rep. Marguerite Quinn (R-Bucks) said. “EITC has been a truly successful scholarship program, and its expansion would create greater opportunities for our children.”

“Each and every child deserves the opportunity to obtain a quality education that fits him or her. The EITC and OSTC scholarships provide families with such opportunities,” said Turzai. “We spend well over $11 billion annually in state tax dollars alone for K-12 public education, a record amount. Providing $250 million in these scholarships, up from $175 million, is only fair as a supplement to our record investment in public education. House Bill 250 moves us in the right direction to fulfill our commitment to offer families educational opportunities that best suit their children’s needs.”

The legislation now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Representative Mike Turzai
Speaker of the House
28th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Stephen Miskin Smiskin@pahousegop.com
717.772.9943 (office), 717.756.3936 (cell)
RepTurzai.com / Facebook.com/RepTurzai / Twitter.com/RepTurzai

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