A recent Philadelphia Inquirer editorial warns, “A secret school tax is not only funded by all taxpayers but has been steadily increasing…”
Actually, it’s a double-header:
- Instead of having to pay their Pennsylvania taxes, the 2001 Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program (EITC) gives tax credits to corporations for financing organizations that provide private school and pre-K scholarships to low- and middle-income families.
- The 2012 Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program (OSTC) allows students in low-achieving schools to apply for scholarships to another public or non-public school.
Those two programs, aka “voucher lite,” divert tax dollars from the commonwealth’s coffers directly to low- and middle-income families, for a total of $160 million last year.
And now Republican Speaker Mike Turzai has put forward a bill, co-sponsored by 43 Democrats and Republicans, that would rocket that $160 million to $260 million a year,
Turzai’s bill also calls for allowing the annual income of families wanting to participate to jump from $85,00 to $95,000, increasing $15,608 for each additional child.
And while on paper it looks like those corporations are contributing to education, The Inquirer explains: “The reality is that corporations divert up to 90% of their tax liability directly to organizations that provide scholarships and tuitions for private and religious schools.”
As reported, the bottom line is that next year more than $300 million will go to pay tuitions–pre-K and extracurricular activities, too–instead of going into the state budget.