HARRISBURG – The Senate Education Committee approved legislation Wednesday that will expand school choice for thousands of students across Pennsylvania, said Sen. Mike Regan (R-Cumberland/York).
Senate Bill 527, prime sponsored by Sen. Regan, would automatically raise the caps for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Scholarship (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs by 25% annually, so long as at least 90% of the credits were claimed in the year prior.
“Senate Bill 527 will correct the funding imbalance that stifles school choice for thousands of families,” Sen. Regan said. “Pennsylvania’s tax credit scholarship programs have been recognized as national models for school choice and I thank my colleagues for supporting this important step toward expansion that will ensure our state continues to lead for decades to come.”
Each year, arbitrary caps on the EITC/OSTC programs force the state to turn away nearly 43,000 students seeking financial aid to attend the school that best meets their educational goals. The restrictions also limit the number of businesses that can donate to the programs and receive tax credits in return.
“Some of these kids may never get the opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty or an inevitable life of crime and prison because their taxpayer-funded public schools continue to fail to provide them the education and support they need to break the cycle,” Sen. Regan said. “Ultimately, this is about lives. Changing and improving the lives of young people.”
Senate Bill 527 could increase the EITC/OSTC programs by $100 million annually, which represents less than 1% of the $30 billion Pennsylvania spends on public education each year. An investment like this could translate into $7.4 billion in additional economic benefit from higher lifetime earnings attained through greater educational achievement and $260 million saved from the reduced social costs associated with crime, according to Sen. Regan.
“We are talking about personal financial gain for these individuals who then do not need to seek public assistance or wind up in taxpayer-funded prisons,” Sen. Regan said. “And the billions of dollars that we will experience in return more than covers the increase in available tax credits.”
Pennsylvania’s $225 million EITC and $55 million OSTC programs provides scholarships to more than 48,000 students seeking an education outside of their assigned public school.
In 2021, the General Assembly approved a $40 million increase to the EITC cap that funded scholarships for an additional 13,000 students.
Senate Bill 527 now advances to the full Senate for consideration.
CONTACT: Bruce McLanahan, 717-787-8524