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Harrisburg, PA – As part of a last-minute budget deal, the Pennsylvania legislature passed a tax credit that will pay for students trapped in failing schools to attend the school that best fits their educational needs. The bill, HB761, expanded the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program (EITC) to include $50 million in tax breaks to businesses that donate money for scholarships to students in the Commonwealth’s schools performing in the 15th percentile or below.
The bill also allows for corporate donations to pay up to $8,500 in tuition scholarship, and up to $15,000 in scholarships for special-education students to attend the school that most effectively meets their needs.
“Any opportunity where you can help thousands of children escape from failing or violent schools is a good day,” commented David Spielman, Campaigns Coordinator for FreedomWorks. “The expansion of the EITC tax credit shows a real commitment towards education reform in the Commonwealth, which is joining a growing number of states taking bold measures to assure a better education for all students. FreedomWorks will continue to push for more educational reforms in Pennsylvania, including expanded school choice options as well as tenure reform.”
FreedomWorks has been engaged in a lengthy grassroots campaign to advance school choice in Pennsylvania over the past two years. Mobilizing a network of 35,000 activists, FreedomWorks waged a grassroots campaign targeting lawmakers with over 35,000 yard signs, 180,000 door hangers, 150,000 phone calls, over 2,000 letters to lawmakers and weekly office visits.
“While we had hoped to get more money for the scholarship program, we are thrilled with the passage of HB761,” commented Ana Puig, FreedomWorks Campaign Coordinator in PA. “It is definitely a step in the right direction for Pennsylvania, where change is slow in the making. This will help thousands of kids trapped in failing schools right away and we live to fight another day. We are not going away!”
FreedomWorks thanks those legislators who took leadership in advancing this key education reform, including Rep. Mike Vereb, Rep. Jim Christiana, Sen. Jeff Picolla, Sen. Anthony Williams, Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley and Gov. Tom Corbett.
Pennsylvania spends just shy of $14,000 per student per year, yet less than half of its students are proficient in reading and math. According to NAEP, (National Assessment of Educational Progress) which tests fourth and eighth grade students on reading and math, only 37 percent of 4th graders score proficient while only 40 percent of 8th graders score proficient.