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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: February 22, 2019 02:34 PM
From: Representative Mike Turzai
To: All House members
Subject: EITC Expansion legislation
We are preparing to introduce legislation that will increase the amount of tax credits available under the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program by $100 million (to $210 million), providing tens of thousands of additional Pennsylvania families the ability to choose a school that best fits their needs.
In order to ensure that the scholarship program can continue to grow to meet demand, the legislation will also establish an automatic escalator, increasing the EITC scholarship cap by 10% whenever 90% of the tax credits were claimed in the prior year. These increases will go entirely towards additional scholarships for elementary and secondary students.
To allow more middle class families access to this program, the bill will increase the maximum annual household income by $10,000 (to $95,000, before add-ons per child), while guaranteeing that once a student has received a scholarship, they will remain eligible through high school graduation regardless of changes to family income. To ensure that these tax credit provide the greatest benefit possible to students, the bill will require participating organizations to spend at least 90% of the donations they receive on scholarships and educational improvement programs.
While Pennsylvania was among the first states to establish a tax credit scholarship program, we are at risk of falling behind other places that have enacted automatic escalators. Florida’s program served fewer students than ours in 2011, when their escalator took effect; it now serves over twice as many children, with a larger average scholarship amount. Last year half of the scholarship applications in our state were denied, demonstrating a clear demand among parents and students for additional funding.

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 $3.5 billion, from $7.46 billion to $11 billion. In the 2019-20 fiscal year, Gov. Wolf has proposed increasing these appropriations by another $500 million.

Over the same time period, EITC credits have increased by only $100 million, from $60 million to $160 million. The OSTC program was also established in 2012 at $50 million. Together, these two programs receive an amount equal to less than 2% 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, 12.5% of our students- over 250,000 children- attend non-public schools. 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.

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

Introduced as HB800