Senate Bill 1, sponsored by Senators Jeffrey Piccola (R-Dauphin) and Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia), has been the subject of the school choice debate for many months. Titled the Opportunity Scholarship and Educational Improvement Tax Credit Act, the bill proposes an increase in funding for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program and a phased in voucher program that would give scholarship grants to qualified students for tuition at the school of their choice.
This week, Representatives Jim Christiana (R-Beaver) and Tony Payton (D-Philadelphia) introduced House Bill 1708, the Students and Schools Rescue Act, to give “relief to students from low-income families attending failing schools, while increasing opportunities for the children of middle-income families to choose an alternative education system through a major expansion of the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC).”
The House bill has a slightly different but very similar approach to school choice. It is being considered by legislative leaders as a potential compromise.
“We want to accomplish school choice with an increase to the EITC and a voucher program,” said Dr. Robert J. O’Hara, Jr., Executive Director of the PCC. “Compromise is a part of the legislative process. The important thing is keeping things moving towards school choice. We applaud both the Senate and the House for their efforts and willingness to work together to get this done.”
The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference (PCC) is urging school choice advocates to visit, call, fax or e-mail state legislators to voice their support for both bills and encourage the House and Senate to work together for school choice.