Will Lawmakers Put Hollywood Before School Children?

SEPTEMBER 24, 2009 | by ELIZABETH STELLE

Governor Rendell and three legislative caucuses are kicking low-income children out of their classrooms to fund handout to Big Hollywood studios. This is beyond bad policy - it's blatant political patronage.  You know things are bad when politicians defend a program with no economic benefits over the opportunity to help disadvantaged kids attend quality schools at no cost to taxpayers

The current proposal will cut a total of $39 million from all tax credits, reportedly including the Educational Improvement Tax Credit. The EITC was expected to provide $75 million and since July all but $4.8 million of the credits have been claimed.

The EITC is a win for all involved, including taxpayers. The tax credit gives scholarships to low- to moderate-income families who want to send their children to the school of their choice, at a fraction of what public schools spend. In the 2007-08 school year alone, the EITC saved taxpayers over $500 million.

Cutting the EITC would force present scholarship recipients back into a school they don't want to attend.

But Rendell and lawmakers have fought to preserve corporate welfare for another mediocre M. Night Shyamalan flick.  All around the country states are reducing film tax credits as budgets are squeezed and promised returns fail to materialize. One employee at the Wisconsin Department of Commerce summarized their film tax program by saying, "We lost a lot of money. We had to get off the crazy train."

Pennsylvania's experience with the film tax credit is no different. With the education of children at stake, you'd think Harrisburg politicians would follow suit and get off the crazy train. But for all their rhetoric, it's now clear that this time it isn't about the children.

Instead Rendell, the Senate, and the Democrats in the House are making lobbyists (even those lobbying illegally) and special interests their number one priority.

The REACH Foundation is putting togther an impromptu rally tommorow to protect the EITC and school choice in Pennsylvania.



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