State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

The State House Sound Bites Podcast is now called State of the State and is a part of PA Post, a digital-first, citizen-focused news organization to hold Pennsylvania’s government accountable to its citizens.

Private school tax credit may get boost after two-day debate

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | May 7, 2019 6:56 PM

Lawmakers spent hours over two days debating whether it was appropriate to route $100 million toward private school scholarships. (Tom Downing/WITF)


(Harrisburg) -- The state House has passed a contentious proposal that would boost scholarships for private school students.

The amount of money up for debate wasn't huge by the Capitol's standards. But lawmakers saw the bill as a symbol of tension between funding public and private schools.

The measure would increase funds for the Education Improvement Tax Credit by $100 million--nearly doubling the amount available--and include an automatic 10 percent increase if it's all used

The money goes to businesses that donate to scholarships and similar programs for private school students.

Floor debate stretched over two days.

Opponents, like Luzerne County Democratic Representative Jim Carroll, said it's unfair to put so much money toward private schools when the proposed increase for public schools is relatively small.

"I'm hopeful the supporters of this proposal are equally supportive of additional funds beyond $200 million for basic education," he said. "How about special ed?"

The proposal would also increase the salary cap for recipients' parents, from $85,000 to $95,000 annually.

It's sponsored by Republican House Speaker Mike Turzai, who argued it's about school choice.

"There's only one monopolistic school system that should be allowed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania?" he asked sarcastically. "Oh, there's freedom."

The plan passed on a mostly party-lines vote and now goes to the Senate.

Published in News, State House Sound Bites

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