The Texas state Senate Education Committee on Tuesday voted 8–3 to pass Senate Bill 4, which would establish a Taxpayer Credit Scholarship Program. The bill by Sen. Larry Taylor ( R-Galveston) incorporates some pieces of SB 276, a more expansive bill by Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels). Under Taylor’s proposal, about 10,000 low-income children would be eligible for private school scholarships. Those scholarships would be funded by businesses that receive a tax credit for contributing to a qualified scholarship-granting organization.
If the measure becomes law, Texas would become the 25th state along with the District of Columbia to enact private school choice. Arkansas also has a school choice plan making its way through the legislative process that would make it the 26th state.
The following statements from education policy experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Director of Communications Jim Lakely at [email protected] and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 312/731-9364.
“The good news coming out of Austin is that Texas is a step closer to joining the rest of the civilized world in having public funds follow students to the schools their parents choose, rather than go exclusively to government schools no matter how awful they are. The bad news is that it is a very small step indeed.
“I thought Texas is too big for tax credit schemes that rescue a few thousand students while leaving millions of kids behind in failing schools. I thought Texans know that markets, not governments, deliver goods and services with the highest quality at the lowest price. On both points, I guess I was wrong.
“I hope the little tax credit program makes it to the governor’s desk and is signed into law, and that the program may someday expand to resemble the Taxpayers Savings Grant program that has been introduced unsuccessfully twice before. That program would be big enough and bold enough to save a generation of students. Big and bold enough for Texas.”
The Heartland Institute
Mr. Bast testified before the Texas Senate Education Committee on August 24, 2012 in favor of the Taxpayer Savings Grants program. Read his testimony here.
“After years of hearing politicians give speeches about school choice, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick is the first to make it a priority. But with 150,000 Texas children in low-performing schools and another 100,000 on charter school waiting lists, much more choice is needed – and will be sought in future legislative sessions.”
“Small changes may lead eventually to systemic transformations, but often that’s the work of years or even decades. The tuition tax credit bill that the legislature is moving ahead with now would be a modest change in the state’s landscape of school choice. Around 10,000 children from low-income families will likely benefit, sure. Are 10,000 kids better than none at all? Certainly.
“But Texas has 5 million school children, with hundreds of thousands languishing in failing or simply mediocre schools. Why should those children have to wait years or decades for something better? By then it will be too late for them.”
“Although this tax credit bill is a step in the right direction, Texas still has a long way to go in terms of providing choice to the thousands of families who want and need it. When the small-scale program proves successful, legislators will have little excuse not to help all Texas students and families through Taxpayer Savings Grants and other choice programs – programs that hundreds of thousands of families already benefit from in 24 states and the District of Columbia.”
“Texas is far behind its compatriots in addressing our nation’s fiscal and demographic crises with the only win-win solution: a private-school choice program. Lawmakers need to start thinking about posterity instead of their comfort and finally open an avenue for as many needy children as possible to get a great education from any and every school. Real school choice in Texas is a no-brainer – unless you’re more concerned about lobbyists than kids.”
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