Arkansas legislators introduce bill to create universal ESA program
Poll shows 82% of Arkansas parents need more educational options
Arkansas State Rep. Jim Dotson and State Sen. Blake Johnson have introduced HB1222, which would create a universal education savings account, or ESA, program in the state. This comes on the heels of a poll that shows 82% of Arkansas parents say they need more educational options.
“We would like to thank Rep. Dotson and Sen. Johnson for their commitment to Arkansas’ children and embracing a unique form of school choice to give them a much needed educational option,” said Ryan Cantrell, regional advocacy and political director for the American Federation for Children. “We urge the Arkansas legislature to support this bill and give every child in the state the chance to receive a world-class education that is customized to their needs.”
This legislation comes at a time when Arkansas parents have expressed strong support for school choice, which we also see nationwide. A recent poll of over 500 Arkansas parents found 82% of parents say they need more educational options and 87% want more choices now. Findings also show supporting or opposing school choice has political implications, with 76% of parents more likely to vote for a legislator who supports school choice and 81% of parents indicating they are less likely to vote for a legislator who wants to take school choice away.
The proposed ESA program would be funded through individual and corporate tax credits with a cap of $10 million for its first year. Students who participate in the program will receive funding equal to the foundation funding amount, which is $6,646 in 2017, to go towards their individual education expenses. Additionally, the University of Arkansas conducted a fiscal impact study of the bill and found it to be a net positive for both state and local governments.
If passed, this would be the second program of its kind in the country alongside Nevada which also has a near universal ESA program.