REACH Alliance Applauds Gov. Corbett, State Legislature for their Commitment to School Choice
HB 761 Creates Education Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program, Expands EITC
(Harrisburg, PA – June 30 2012) – House Bill 761, the Omnibus Tax Reform Code which also expands the popular Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program (EITC) and creates the Education Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program (EISC), was passed out of the House and Senate late tonight and is headed to Governor Corbett’s desk for his signature.
“This bill is a landmark victory for parental choice in Pennsylvania,” said Otto V. Banks, executive director of the REACH Alliance & Foundation. “The new EISC will serve as a powerful catalyst that will create an explosive change in education that will be felt throughout the entire Commonwealth. Combined with the expansion to the EITC, thousands of more parents are now in control of their children’s future.”
The new $50 million EISC program builds on the decade of EITC success, using the same tax credit funding mechanism, where business contributions will fund scholarships available to children from low and middle income families who reside in low-achieving school areas. A low-achieving school is considered a public school that ranked in the lowest 15% of its designation as an elementary school or a secondary school based on combined mathematics and reading scores from the annual assessment administered in the previous school year and for which the Department of Education has posted results on its website.
The bill increases the funding for the EITC by $25 million, for a total of $100 million. Recognized as a national model and the best example of public-private partnership in Pennsylvania, the EITC program has allowed more than 40,000 students to attend the school of their choice in this school year alone, and hundreds of public school initiatives would have gone unfunded without this program. Since the program’s inception in 2001, 360,000 students have received EITC scholarships and countless others have benefited from the EITC. Additionally, the business community has contributed more than $510 million to ensure that Pennsylvania’s children receive the education they deserve.
The passage of this historic expansion of school choice also marks the culmination of a two-year effort led by Sen. Jeffrey Piccola and Sen. Anthony Williams, whose Senate Bill 1 this session provided the parental choice framework of statewide EITC expansion coupled with targeted funding for children in low achieving schools. Senate Bill 1 passed the Senate 27-22 last fall, marking the first voucher legislation clearing a chamber in 20 years.
Also, Rep. Tom Quigley introduced House Bill 1330, which would have increased EITC funding to $100 million in the 2011-12 school year, increasing to $200 million in 2012-13. HB 1330 passed the House by a 190-7 vote.
This month, Rep. Jim Christiana introduced House Bill 2468, the bill that provided much of the legislative language included in the passage of this school choice victory.
“This victory would not have been possible without the leadership of Governor Tom Corbett, Lieutenant Governor Jim Cawley, Speaker of the House Sam Smith, Representatives Mike Turzai, Senator Dominic Pileggi, House and Senate leaders, Senator Jeffrey Piccola, Senator Anthony Williams and Representative Jim Christiana,” added Banks. “We are grateful for their foresight and commitment to education in Pennsylvania.”
Reach Alliance – along with coalition members Commonwealth Foundation, Association of Christian Schools International, Keystone Christian Education Association, Pennsylvania Family Institute, Pennsylvania Catholic Conference and Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association – have lobbied on behalf of school choice since 1991. Reach Alliance led the effort to create the EITC in 2001, a first in the nation program, and has championed the tax credit approach to enhance parental rights in education ever since.