The Pennsylvania house recently passed a bill that will expand the cap on EITC and OSTC scholarship tax credits. The program has been a success, so much so that previous expansions have allowed it to reach capacity in a relatively short period of time. It is clear that there are many families in Pennsylvania who are looking for schools that match their family values, and provide quality education.
PCS benefits from this program in a couple of ways. It helps increase our enrollment, because it enables more families to consider sending their children here. Our school's ability to provide the programs and activities that it does would be limited if those who receive EITC scholarships were not able to attend. It would affect all aspects of school operations, including academics, athletics, fine arts, and other activities. Across the state, over 40,000 students receive scholarships, representing almost 40% of those who attend private schools, including Christian schools. Several ACSI schools which minister in lower income areas would not exist if it were not for EITC or OSTC.
The expansion bill just passed by the house adds $50 million to the EITC cap, increasing it to $175 million, and adds $25 million to OSTC, increasing it to $75 million. It provides the potential for adding up to 20,000 additional students to the program.
This is not "state money." In school choice programs, there is always concern that tax dollars from the state going into private schools carry government regulations. That is not the case with EITC and OSTC. These are scholarships contributed by private businesses. They work the same way a charitable contribution works with tax deductions. If a business makes a contribution to a school's scholarship fund, it is allowed to deduct up to 90% of the contribution from its taxes.
How You Can Help!
The bill must now be considered and passed by the senate to be presented to the governor for his signature. The advocacy efforts on behalf of ACSIPA, Catholic Conference, and other private school interest groups have helped get the bill this far. Our legislators have heard from our constituency, and recognize that this is their constituency, too.
Please go to the ACSIPA website, at http://acsipa.org and click on the "Voter Action Center" tab. The screen will say "Active Issues," and the top issue is for Pennsylvania schools. Click on that issue, and you will be taken to the screen where you can send the email in the text box to your legislators. Based on your zip code, your specific representative and senator will receive the email, along with the governor's office. It is the count of total emails that matters, though you do have the option to write one of your own.
Everyone at our school benefits from this, so whether you receive a scholarship or not, your help in supporting the bill would be appreciated. It is becoming increasingly important for Christian schools to step up and take the initiative in financing the cost of providing education for students. Currently, only about 20% of Christian families have the required level of income to provide a year of tuition and fees for two students. If this ministry is to be successful in reaching students, and meeting the expected outcome of graduating students who are strong in their faith, and make their decisions from a Biblical worldview, programs like EITC/OSTC, and other means of providing choice for parents will have to be developed that make access to a Christian school a reality. That means that our business supporters will need to step up their involvement, and our churches will have to understand the many ways Christian schools are already benefitting their ministries.
Thank you for your help.