HARRISBURG – The Senate Education Committee approved legislation Wednesday that will expand school choice for thousands of students across Pennsylvania, said Chairman Scott Martin (R-13).
Senate Bill 527, prime sponsored by Senator Regan and co-sponsored by Senator Martin, would automatically raise the caps for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Scholarship (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs by 25% annually, so long as at least 90% of the credits were claimed in the year prior.
“This bill recognizes that education should not be one-size-fits-all,” Sen. Martin said. “The sheer fact that we had 42,000 kids who were denied simply because of an arbitrary cap, even though the dollars could have been there, is something we need to address.”
Each year, caps on the EITC/OSTC programs force the state to turn away nearly 43,000 students seeking financial aid to attend the school that best meets their educational goals. The restrictions also limit the number of businesses that can donate to the programs and receive tax credits in return.
Senate Bill 527 could increase the programs by $100 million annually, which could translate into $7.4 billion in additional economic benefit from higher lifetime earnings attained through greater education achievement.
“Many communities have good public schools across the Commonwealth. Unfortunately, that’s not the story everywhere. The EITC program gives families a way out of consistently failing school districts that have failed their children time and time again,” Sen. Martin said. “Kids shouldn’t be trapped in hopeless situations simply because of their zip code. Parents should have the ability to put their children in the best educational setting to meet their needs.”
Pennsylvania’s $225 million EITC and $55 million OSTC programs provides scholarships to more than 48,000 students seeking an education outside of their assigned public school. Both of these programs are possible by schools forming partnerships with businesses and individuals who wish to financially support the education of students in their community and state.
In 2021, the General Assembly approved a $40 million increase to the EITC cap that funded scholarships for an additional 13,000 students.
Senate Bill 527 now advances to the full Senate for consideration.
CONTACT: Terry Trego, 717-787-6535