Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) said he will veto a bill passed by both houses of the legislature to expand the state’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program, in a statement from his office in Harrisburg on June 12.
“I’ve seen enough to know that this is not something I think is good for Pennsylvania,” Wolf said after a public appearance in Philadelphia on June 12, the Pennsylvania Capital-Star reported. “It distracts from what we ought to be focusing on, which is educating every child through our public school system,” Wolf said.The EITC program provides K-12 scholarships to families for their children to attend public or private schools. It is funded by donations from corporations, for which they receive a credit against state income taxes.
Fifty Thousand Students Shut Out
The total amount of EITCs that corporations can claim each year is currently capped at $110 million. H.B. 800 would raise the tax credit cap by $100 million and the ceiling on the income of families qualifying for the scholarships.
“Currently, children are eligible for an EITC scholarship if their family household income is below $85,000, with a $15,603 add-on for each child,” said Tim Benson, a policy analyst with The Heartland Institute, which publishes Budget & Tax News. “With a donation limit of $110 million, the EITC program served 34,421 students during the 201617 school year.”
The bill was sponsored by House Speaker Mike Turzai (R) and was passed by both chambers of the General Assembly, largely on partisan lines. The House passed the legislation 111-85 in May, and the Senate voted 28-21 to approve the bill on June 11, at which point it was sent to the governor.
“The expansion will allow many more of the 50,000 students who were turned away last year to receive an EITC scholarship,” Turzai said in a press release on June 11.
The program is very popular with residents of the commonwealth, says Benson.
“A 2017 poll conducted by McLaughlin & Associates showed 76 percent of likely voters supported EITC and another 70 percent support increasing the program’s donation cap,” Benson said.
Joe Barnett ([email protected]) is a research fellow with The Heartland Institute.
Speaker Mike Turzai (R-McCandless): http://www.repturzai.com/
Tim Benson, “Expansion of Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program Would Help Thousands of Pennsylvania Children,” research & commentary, The Heartland Institute, April 26, 2019: https://heartland.org/publications-resources/publications/research–commentary-expansion-of-educational-improvement-tax-credit-program-would-help-thousands-of-pennsylvania-children