HB250: Increasing EITC/OSTC vouchers hurts PA taxpayers
Chambersburg Public Opinion Online Opinion by Susan Spicka 10:23 a.m. ET March 31, 2017
Increasing taxpayer-funded vouchers for private/religious schools has emerged as a top budget priority for state lawmakers. Recently, the PA House approved legislation (HB 250) that would provide $55 million in new funding for private/religious school vouchers through the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs. This 44% increase would bring total funding for vouchers in PA to $180 million/year.
The EITC and OSTC programs allow businesses to divert their tax payments away from the state and into private/religious schools. These programs have virtually no fiscal or academic performance accountability standards and there is no evidence that they have contributed to improved student achievement in PA.
The EITC/OSTC programs do, however, come at a steep cost to Pennsylvania taxpayers. Every tax dollar that is sent to private/religious schools through the EITC/OSTC programs creates a hole in the state budget that must be filled by hard-working Pennsylvanians.
In order to pay to for $55 million in new private/religious school voucher funding in the 2017-2018 budget, state lawmakers will need to either raise new taxes or cut programs and services from the budget that benefit Pennsylvanians.
- An insistence on no tax increases and no new borrowing to support current-year expenses. The Republican plan would turn first to expanded gambling and further liquor sales reforms for new state revenue.
- Setting a likely floor of $31.5 billion for overall general fund spending, which is actually slightly below current-year spending levels. Gov. Tom Wolf's February proposal called for $32.3 billion in total spending.
- Endorsement of the $100 million increase sought by Wolf in the state's main subsidy line for classroom instruction in public schools.
HARRISBURG – Taking up the challenge to deal with a potential $3 billion shortfall, House Republicans crafted a “smart budget” to begin the process of reinventing Pennsylvania government without raising or creating new taxes and also providing additional funding for key education and public safety programs. The budget bill, House Bill 218, passed the House today by a vote of 114 to 84, House Republican Leaders said. “House Republicans are working to reverse the growth of government by using this opportunity to reinvent Pennsylvania government in the most efficient and effective ways – without raising taxes,” Majority Leader Dave Reed (R-Indiana) said. “Our budget begins the process of a government reinvention – plotting a new course for Pennsylvania, punching holes in bureaucracy and focusing on government’s core functions.” “This budget reflects our continued commitment to controlled spending and does not rely on the governor’s proposed tax hikes that could hurt our state’s economic future,” Speaker of the House Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) said. “This plan reflects a no-tax, no-borrow budget; it does not mortgage our future, but places priorities on core government functions, especially quality education for our children.”
- Job training and access to job opportunities.
- Food insecurity and access to healthy foods.
- Access to physical, social, and emotional health services, including the need for a “trauma informed” approach to serving students.
- Access to clothing and uniforms.
- Cultural and social opportunities.
- “If you look at so many elements of education, and it is so sad to see what is coming, happening in the country.”
- He really likes charter schools and doesn’t think they are “an experiment” anymore.
- The Common Core State Standards has “to end” because “we have to bring education local.”
- Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is “doing a terrific job,” is “highly respected” and has “a tremendous track record.”
- Monday, May 1, 6-8 p.m. — Parkway West CTC, 7101 Steubenville Pike, Oakdale, PA 15071
- Tuesday, May 2, 7:30-9 a.m. — A W Beattie Career Center, 9600 Babcock Blvd, Allison Park, PA 15101
- Tuesday, May 2, 6-8 p.m. — Crawford County CTC, 860 Thurston Road, Meadville, PA 16335
- Wednesday, May 3, 6-8 p.m. — St. Marys Area School District, 977 S. St Marys Road, Saint Marys, PA 15857
- Thursday, May 4, 6-8 p.m. — Central Montco Technical High School, 821 Plymouth Road, Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462
- Friday, May 5, 7:30-9 a.m. — Lehigh Carbon Community College, 4525 Education Park Dr, Schnecksville, PA 18078
- Monday, May 15, 6-8 p.m. — CTC of Lackawanna Co., 3201 Rockwell Avenue, Scranton, PA 18508
- Tuesday, May 16, 6-8 p.m. — PSBA, 400 Bent Creek Boulevard, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050
- Wednesday, May 17, 6-8 p.m. — Lycoming CTC, 293 Cemetery Street, Hughesville, PA 17737
- Thursday, May 18, 6-8 p.m. — Chestnut Ridge SD, 3281 Valley Road, Fishertown, PA 15539
Join PenSPRA Friday, April 7, 2017 in Shippensburg, PA 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with evening social events on Thursday, April 6th from 5 - 8 p.m. at the Shippensburg University Conference Center
The agenda is as follows: Supporting transgender students in our schools (9 am), Evaluating School Communications to Inform Your Effectiveness (10:30 am), and Cool Graphics Tools Hands-on Workshop (1:15 pm).
— Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh), Senate Appropriations Committee chair