Missouri Adopts Special-Needs Grants

Published July 28, 2013

Missouri has a new law administering scholarships for families with autistic children that get them services from private facilities or public schools outside their district.

An early version of the bill would have let parents choose where to spend their dollars. The version of Senate Bill 17 Gov. Jay Nixon (D) signed only allows the state to distribute private and federal grants.

Bill sponsor Rep. Dwight Scharnhorst (R-Manchester) said the bill was altered during the legislative process restrict it to federal grants instead of letting parents use their own state money or tax-refundable private donations, as with a true school choice program. “It will [likely] still be tax money,” he said.

“There is no tax credit for these donations. This is not a tax-credit scholarship program and should not be considered an expansion of school choice,” said James Shuls, a Show-Me Institute education analyst.

Ten states offer some school choice for children with special needs, either through vouchers or tax-credit scholarships, which are funded by tax-deductible donations to K-12 scholarship funds.

“I’m going to try to augment that federal grant money with private foundation money if possible,” Scharnhorst said.


Image by Shannon Des Roches Rosa.