Magic 8 Ball, What Lies Ahead for HB 800?

I asked my Magic 8 Ball if Gov. Wolf would sign HB 800—legislation increasing the caps on the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program.

“My sources say no,” was the unfortunate response.

“But, wait,” I persisted. “Hasn’t the governor repeatedly said a child’s zip code should not determine what kind of education he or she can get?”

“It is decidedly so,” confirmed Magic 8 Ball.

“Almost 50,000 tax credit scholarship applications were rejected last year because of the current cap. Businesses tried to donate millions more for scholarships and were waitlisted. Won’t Gov. Wolf want to ensure every child has access to the best possible education?”

“Don’t count on it,” my pessimistic Magic 8 Ball replied.

According to news reports, Magic 8 Ball’s sources were correct. The governor claims increasing EITC “distracts from what we ought to be focusing on, which is educating every child through our public school system.”

“Wait a minute—is the governor implying students who attend schools like Gesu in Philadelphia and Logos Academy in York are mere distractions?” I asked my trusty soothsayer.

“As I see it, yes.”

Gov. Wolf is wrong. The public school system isn’t right for every child. Some might want a bigger school, some might want a smaller school, some might want a school that focuses on discipline, some might want a school that prioritizes STEM or the arts. The point is, one size does not fit all.

Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa shares Gov. Wolf’s opposition to the increase, claiming the bill would reduce funds available for other government priorities: “This is money that is not coming into the commonwealth that this General Assembly would have the chance to distribute.”

Putting aside the arrogance of thinking the General Assembly spends money better than Pennsylvania families and businesses, Sen. Costa is wrong about the fiscal impact of tax credit scholarships. According to new research from EdChoice, EITC and the companion Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit have saved Pennsylvania taxpayers upwards of $5 billion since 2002.

Pennsylvania’s tax credit scholarships empower parents to choose the best education for their children, promote business involvement in local communities, and save taxpayers money.

“Magic 8 Ball, would Pennsylvanians benefit from Gov. Wolf signing HB 800?”