New legislation is being considered in Harrisburg that would give both low and middle income students access to more educational options while allaying fears that school choice might hurt public schools. Rep. Jim Christiana (R-Butler) introduced House Bill 2468 that would expand the existing Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program, eliminate the delay for some companies that wish to contribute, and create another category of tax-credit supported scholarships called Educational Improvement Scholarship Credits (EISC) targeted at students in neighborhoods with perpetually underperforming public schools.
“The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference fully supports Rep. Christiana’s proposal to create another category of tax credit scholarships for students who particularly need more educational choices,” said Dr. Robert J. O’Hara, Jr., executive director. “The long-standing and highly successful Educational Improvement Tax Credit program has a proven track record. EITC scholarships have helped tens of thousands of students attend the school of their choice. EISC scholarships will help thousands more.”
Proposed funding for the traditional EITC program (k-12 and pre-k combined) is $100 million, $25 million more than last year. An additional $100 million would be allocated for EISC scholarship tax credits.
Like EITC, the EISC program would be funded by companies that contribute to scholarship organizations in exchange for a tax credit. These special scholarships up to $8,500 ($15,000 for special education students) are set aside particularly for income eligible students in the lowest performing 15% of public schools.
The PCC has been a staunch supporter of vouchers such as proposed by Senators Jeffrey Piccola (R-Dauphin) and Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia) in Senate Bill 1, and a staunch supporter of expanding EITC. O’Hara said, “For us, school choice is about reinforcing that parents – not the state – are the primary educators of their children. We support legislation that accomplishes that ideal.”