Speaker of the House of Representatives Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) applauded Senate passage of his legislation that enhances a vital school choice program in Pennsylvania.
House Bill 800, which now heads to the governor for his signature, would expand Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program with $100 million in additional tax credits for scholarship organizations. It also includes an automatic escalator that would allow the program to grow to meet demand, increasing the funding for these scholarships by 10% in any year that 90% of the credits are claimed, and if the General Assembly does not approve a separate increase.
Lauded by the Wall Street Journal in a May 2 editorial, House Bill 800 would also make other improvements to the 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.
“We are thankful to those senators who supported this bill, including school choice/EITC advocates Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25) and Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-34),” Turzai said. “We commend their leadership with respect to House Bill 800 and its expansion of school choice opportunities.”
Noting that Pennsylvania has supported public schools – kindergarten through 12th grade – with record levels of investment, supporters of House Bill 800 recognize one size does not fit all for children and families. The increase in EITC scholarship tax credits to $210 million annually represents less than 1% of the state and local tax dollars spent on public schools. Furthermore, the expansion will allow many more of the 50,000 students who were turned away last year to receive an EITC scholarship.
“As the governor knows, we are preparing to increase our funding for public education in the forthcoming budget, and the increase in EITC funding is an appropriate complement to that investment in our public schools,” Turzai said.