Pennsylvania Family Institute today expresses disappointment with Governor Wolf’s veto of House Bill 800, which would have helped thousands of needy families by expanding the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program.
“Governor Wolf, with the stroke of his veto pen, has squandered an opportunity to help thousands of parents who through these scholarships can give their children the best education,” says Michael Geer, President of the Pennsylvania Family Institute (PFI), one of the scholarship organizations that has awarded over 4,000 scholarships to families since the program’s inception.
PFI operates the Family Choice Scholarship Program as one of the EITC approved scholarship organizations. Thanks to the funds from contributing businesses, the Family Choice Scholarship Program was able to award scholarships to 80 Pennsylvania families this past school year alone.
Yet the 80 families are just a fraction of the total number of families that applied and were eligible for a scholarship. More than 250 additional families were unable to receive a scholarship due to a lack of scholarship assistance available despite their need.
“Every year, we are thrilled to be able to offer scholarships to assist low-income families in sending their children to private schools across the Commonwealth,” said Allison Rishel, Family Choice Scholarship Program Coordinator. “Many of these families believe it is necessary to pull their children out of failing public schools in order to place them in safer environments and to provide them with a more effective education. However, every year, we are also saddened to have to turn so many low-income families away, despite their eligibility according to state income guidelines, simply because we do not have the funds to help them.
“We had hoped that House Bill 800 would assist us in being able to help more low-income families.” added Rishel. “Sadly, now that won’t be the case.”
House Bill 800, that recently passed both the House and Senate, would have increased the tax credit cap by $100 million for EITC K-12 scholarships next year, allowing more families the opportunity to send their children to the school the best fits their goals and needs.
Pennsylvania’s successful EITC program, launched in 2001, allows tax credits to eligible businesses donating to a Scholarship Organization, an Educational Improvement Organization, and/or a Pre-Kindergarten Scholarship Organization. A Pre-K scholarship option was added in 2004, and the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC), was added in 2012 to include students attending the lowest-performing schools.
Records show that in the 2017-2018 school year, more than 28,000 EITC applications were rejected, 43% of the total applications. Another 21,000 applications for the OSTC scholarship were rejected as well.
Pennsylvania Family Institute is the largest pro-family organization in Pennsylvania. For more information, visit pafamily.org.
For more about the Family Choice Scholarship Program, visit myfamilychoice.org.