pennsylvania school choice

Pa. Senate Committee Passes School Choice Bill

January 19, 2022, Harrisburg, Pa. — Today, the Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee approved a bill to expand Pennsylvania’s successful and popular tax credit scholarship programs. SB 527, sponsored by Sen. Mike Regan, would allow the scholarship programs, which provide tuition assistance for qualifying students to attend private schools, to expand as more students seek to access them.

Currently, caps on the programs cause 40,000 to 50,000 student scholarship applications to be denied each year. These caps also force the state to turn away $100 million in donations from businesses and individuals who want to contribute to the scholarship fund.

The committee voted 7-4 to advance the bill to the Senate floor. Members who voted “yes” include three gubernatorial candidates: Sens. Jake Corman, Doug Mastriano, and Scott Martin.

Commonwealth Foundation Senior Vice President Nathan Benefield issued the following statement:

“Families are seeking educational options now more than ever, and businesses are waiting to donate to support educational scholarships. This bill would allow these successful programs to keep up with demand and ensure students looking for help obtaining a high-quality education can find it.”

SB 527 creates an “automatic escalator” that would raise limits on the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs by 25 percent annually if 90 percent of the available tax credits are used by business donors in the previous year. Almost 62,000 scholarships were awarded in the 2019-2020 school year.

Automatic escalators are a proven policy, operating in four states: Arizona, Florida, Montana, and Utah. Click here for an in-depth analysis of Pennsylvania’s tax credit scholarship programs.

Commonwealth Foundation experts are available for comment. Please contact John Bouder 570-490-1042 or [email protected] to schedule an interview.

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The Commonwealth Foundation transforms free-market ideas into public policies so all Pennsylvanians can flourish.