HARRISBURG – Calling it a positive step for students throughout the Commonwealth, Speaker of the House of Representatives Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) said the House Education Committee today advanced his bill to enhance a vital school choice program in the Commonwealth.
House Bill 800
would expand Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program with $100 million in additional tax credits for scholarship organizations. Additionally, it includes an automatic escalator that would increase the funding for these scholarships by 10% in any year that 90% of the credits are claimed, allowing the program to grow to meet demand.
“Each year, the largest expenditure in Pennsylvania’s state budget is dedicated to primary and secondary education – more than $11 billion to support every public school in the Commonwealth. When added to local spending, we devote more than $30 billion annually to funding our public school districts. In return for this great investment, Pennsylvania boasts many of the best public schools in the nation, providing immense benefit to our students and our communities. But, for a variety of reasons unique to each individual, these great public schools are not always the right fit for every child or every family,” Turzai said. “This is why the EITC program is performing so well and needs to grow.”
The bill would also make other improvements to this vital program. It would increase the household income limit by $10,000, allowing more middle-class families to benefit from the scholarships. Once a student qualifies, he or she would remain eligible for the program through high school graduation, regardless of changes to family income. And to ensure that more of this tax money goes directly to students, House Bill 800 lowers the amount that can be retained for administrative costs from 20% to 10%.
“In the 2016-17 school year, more than 50,000 students were able to receive a scholarship to attend the school of their choice, but another 52,000 applications were denied due to current limits on the programs’ size and household income requirements,” Turzai said. “There is an equally unmet need among donors, with too few tax credits available for the many wanting to give. As of January 2019, businesses had applied for $180 million in tax credits beyond the current caps. With a limit of $210 million, the program’s annual budget is far too low, accounting for less than 2% of the state government’s appropriation for education.”
House Bill 800 now goes to the full House for a vote.
Representative Mike Turzai
Speaker of the House
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Christine Goldbeck
717.787.7977 (office) 570.205.0736 (cell)