In a bipartisan vote, the House Education Committee advanced legislation to boost Pennsylvania’s crucial private school scholarship programs, the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC). HB 250, sponsored by Speaker Mike Turzai, increases the EITC by $50 million and the OSTC by $25 million.
The legislation paves the way for more success stories like Hudson, whose OSTC scholarship allows him to attend and excel at Philadelphia Classical School, and Kaiden Myers, who attended the Westwood School in Philadelphia with the help of the EITC.
The EITC and OSTC serve more than 50,000 students—larger than the school district of Pittsburgh—with scholarships of roughly $2,000 per student. A recent study by EdChoice estimates the EITC saved Pennsylvania taxpayers more than $1 billion from 2002 to 2014. Private scholarship programs are truly a win-win proposition.
Why are scholarship tax credits different from other state tax credits, such as those for filmmakers? In short, because scholarship tax credits are not corporate welfare.
- EITC & OSTC do not pick winners through loosely-defined “economic development.” Hundreds of scholarship organizations may receive donations, and hundreds of thousands of students are eligible to benefit from a scholarship.
- EITC & OSTC provide a high quality education for students, while saving taxpayer funds, since the variable costs of students who withdraw from public schools greatly exceeds the cost of tax credits awarded to participating businesses.
- Businesses who give via the EITC and OSTC are still contributing to education of Pennsylvania children—but these funds are available for private schools, private pre-k, and various educational improvement organizations.
HB 250 deserves the support of lawmakers who believe in high quality educational options for all Pennsylvania children.