By: Allison Rishel
In a move of colossal injustice, Governor Tom Wolf failed Pennsylvania’s families and children by vetoing an expansion of the highly popular Education Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program. Now he must answer to the tens of thousands of needy moms, dads, grandparents and guardians whom, because of his veto of House Bill 800, won’t get help for their children to attend the school that’s best for them and their future.
Thanks to business donations into the program I coordinate, we helped 80 families with either an EITC, Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) or Pre-Kindergarten scholarships this past school year alone.
But those 80 families are just a fraction of those that were eligible for a scholarship because of need. More than 250 families — 76% of those eligible — heard the sad news that they would not be receiving any scholarship assistance despite their need. It’s a story repeated by virtually every scholarship organization.
Records show that 28,000 EITC applications were denied just in the 2017-2018 school year, representing 43 percent of all applications that school year.
“We can’t even express fully what this means to our family,” said one of our scholarship recipients. Another parent shared how our awarded scholarship “helped make [her] son’s education possible.”
How many more families could say this with an expanded EITC program?
Despite the governor’s veto, there is still an opportunity on the table to help more families through the EITC program by including an expansion in the state budget. I implore our State Senators and State Representatives, on behalf of these families, to take hold of this opportunity and approve the increase.
Governor Wolf’s self-proclaimed education motto is “schools that teach.” It would be a shame and a failed opportunity if we can’t help more students access schools that teach.
Allison Rishel is the coordinator for the Family Choice Scholarship Program (myfamilychoice.org), run by the Pennsylvania Family Institute as an approved EITC scholarship organization.