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HB 2468: What The EITC Program Means For PA

Unbeknownst to many Pennsylvanians on July 1st, House Bill 2468 passed and will spread the reach of Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program and include a new scholarship program.

The EITC program provides tax subsidies to companies that contribute to non- profit organizations offering scholarships to students who attend private and religious schools or early childhood programs, or to organizations providing educational improvement activities.

In other words the EITC program is a tax credit for corporations contributing to scholarships which can then be used for private/parochial schools. We the taxpayers then are left to pick up their tab, draining precious dollars from our tax dollar pool and less public dollars to fund our public schools.

HB 2468 will raise the cost of the EITC program from $75 million in 2011-12 to $200 million in 2012-13. Tax credits will be available to businesses on donations up to $400,000 in 2012-13 and up to $750,000 after that. This is quite the increase from the current $300,000 cap.

A recent article by Daniel Denvir, states that “In Pennsylvania, 200 organizations control more than $40 million donated by corporations and take an “administrative fee” of up to 20 percent. Two of those organizations, Bridge Educational Foundation and Bravo Foundation, allegedly coordinate their “scholarship-giving” with elected officials in the state.”

Legislators found it difficult during the last 18 months, since Corbett began advocating for vouchers, to spend money directly from the state education budget to fund private and parochial schools. They apparently found it more palatable to instead expand corporate tax credits for the same purpose, says the Inquirer.

The EITC program is not what Pennsylvania students need. The program will grant scholarships to students who may already be attending private or parochial schools. According to Rep. Roebuck, chair of the House Education Committee, 85 to 90 percent of the students getting a voucher would already be in private schools.

The scholarships won’t improve public education. They will only benefit private and parochial schools and serve as a tax break for corporations and business owners, while our schools continue to suffer from deep cuts to education. Over the last two years, Gov. Corbett has cut over $1 Billion from public education.

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