OPINION: State Rep. Sets Record Straight on Pennsylvania's EITC

From State Rep. Tom Quigley writing in The Pottstown Mercury:

Recently an opinion piece was published in which the author came down very hard against school vouchers and the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC). The issue of school vouchers has been discussed for some time here in Pennsylvania, in fact the House Education Committee held six public hearings over the summer on the subject. Although those concerns and the pros and cons of school vouchers will continue to be debated in the coming months, I believe Mercury readers should know the truth about the EITC program.

In 2001, Pennsylvania became the first state in the nation to enact an education tax credit program funded by businesses. The EITC Program allows businesses to donate up to $300,000 per year to a registered and approved 501 (c) (3) Scholarship Organization (SO) or Educational Improvement Organization (EIO) of their choice. The state then provides each donating business with a tax credit of 75 percent of their donation amount (or 90 percent if they pledge the donation for two consecutive years) against what they owe in state taxes. In addition, businesses can donate up to $150,000 per year to a registered and approved Pre-K scholarship organization (PKSO). The state provides each donating business a tax credit of 100 percent for the first $10,000 contribution and 90 percent for the remaining amount. The EITC program has helped countless students who meet the program’s income eligibility guidelines to realize academic success. The program allows a student who may not fit the one-size-fits-all mentality of our current education system to receive a quality education at an institution more suited to his or her preferences. It also benefits public schools, which are the beneficiaries of some of the funding.

The Commonwealth does maintain financial oversight of the EITC program through the Department of Community and Economic Development. Along with requiring every Scholarship Organization (SO), Prekindergarten Scholarship Organization (PKSO) and Educational Improvement Organization (EIO) to submit information confirming its federal tax exempt status, SOs and PKSOs also must annually report data regarding the number of scholarships awarded, total and average amount of scholarships, and county-by-county information regarding scholarships.