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Pennsylvania House of Representatives
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20170&cosponId=25929
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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: May 30, 2018 02:03 PM
From: Representative Mike Turzai and Rep. Jim Christiana
To: All House members
Subject: Legislation Increasing EITC, OSTC, and Expanding Eligibility
 
We are preparing to introduce legislation that will increase the amount of tax credits available under the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program by $25 million (to $160 million), increase the amount of tax credits available under the Opportunity Scholarships Tax Credit (OSTC) program by $5 million (to $55 million), and increase the maximum annual household income by about $10,000 (to $85,000) to increase educational opportunities and assist more parents and students choose a school that best fits their needs.

Since the 2010-11 fiscal year, direct support of public schools through the major seven line-items in our budget (Basic Education, Special Education, Ready-to-Learn Bock Grant, Pupil Transportation, Nonpublic/Charter Transportation, School Employees’ Social Security, and School Employees’ Retirement) has increased by $3.3 billion, from $7.46 billion to $10.76 billion. In the 2018-19 fiscal year, Gov. Wolf has proposed increasing these appropriations by another $408 million.

Over the same time period, EITC credits have increased by $75 million, from $60 million to $135 million. The OSTC program was also established in 2012 at $50 million. Together, these two programs receive an amount equal to 1.7% of the funding provided to public schools through the major seven line-items.

According to the most recent numbers available through the Pennsylvania Department of Education, over 250,000 students attend non-public schools in Pennsylvania, which is 12.5 percent of the total students in our state. We believe there are more students who might choose to attend a non-public school if their families could afford the option.

Strengthening school choice opportunities, especially for those students who would not otherwise be able to attend a school of their choice, has been a priority for many of us.

This legislation will increase the amount of tax credits available under the EITC program by $25 million, with the increase allocated to scholarship organizations for K-12 students.

This legislation will also increase the amount of tax credits available under the OSTC program by $5 million, which provides eligible K-12 students residing within the boundaries of low-achieving schools to apply for scholarships to attend another public or nonpublic school. A low achieving school is defined as a public elementary or secondary school that ranked in the lowest 15 percent in combined math and reading scores under the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) or the Keystone Exams.

This legislation will also increase the threshold for the maximum annual household income which is one of the two qualifying income requirements for participation in the EITC scholarship program to $85,000, which will be adjusted annually based on the CPI. The additional add-on per child, which is currently at $15,530 and is adjusted annually based on the CPI, will remain the same.

Please join us in sponsoring this important legislation that will help improve educational opportunities for students across the Commonwealth.