Gov. Wolf's refusal to release approval letters for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs is causing needless pain for families, students, schools, and non-profits.
The two programs provide tax credits in exchange for a donation to a scholarship or educational improvement organization. However, the state must authorize the tax credits before they’re released. Regrettably, the Department of Community and Economic Development, which oversees the programs, has refused to do so.
The Wolf Administration claims the tax credits can’t be approved because the legislature has yet to adopt the Tax Code. But CF has explained why this isn’t a sufficient justification for cutting off an educational lifeline for students in need.
As we noted earlier this week, the department’s refusal is already causing headaches for communities in York. Unfortunately, the pain isn’t confined there. People in Harrisburg are hurting as well.
Lizzy Hardison of TheBurg magazine spoke with several people, including Kathy Anderson-Martin, who painted a picture of the dire consequences stemming from the state’s inexplicable decision:
Lawmakers have already adopted a spending plan but can’t agree on a revenue package. Until they reach consensus, millions of dollars in tax-deductible corporate donations are on hold, too.
That’s because the budget impasse has stalled approvals for the Education Improvement Tax Credit program, which qualifies businesses for tax credits if they donate to scholarship organizations, educational improvement organizations or pre-K scholarship funds.
Local schools and nonprofits, including the Salvation Army, say that the delayed approvals have paralyzed their planning for future programs and scholarships.
“We can’t receive almost $200,000 in gifts because that program is on hold,” said Anderson-Martin.
The administration’s actions are in express violation of state law. In their letter to the governor, Representatives Kristin Phillips-Hill and Jamie Santora make clear that DCED must issue approvals after 30 days following the department’s receipt of a tax credit application, according to the Public School Code.
It’s unclear why Gov. Wolf and his administration are making it harder for students to escape failing school systems. But whatever the reason, the law isn’t on his side.