HARRISBURG – Following the detrimental $150 million cut to educational improvement and opportunity scholarships made by House Democrats, the House Republican Policy Committee, led by Chairman Joshua D. Kail (R-Beaver/Washington), convened a series of hearings titled “Funding our Children’s Future” to demonstrate the impact this decision would have on families, students and educational institutions throughout the Commonwealth. Today, the House voted to include the $150 million in House Bill 301
“Every child deserves the opportunity to learn in an environment that makes sense for their needs and those of their family,” said Kail. “Thanks to the hard work of Pennsylvania Republicans, we can ensure the continuation of programs that prevent children from failing alongside Pennsylvania’s failing education system.”
The programs are known as the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs. They allow businesses to claim a tax credit for donations to local scholarship funds and innovative educational programming for pre-kindergarten through grade 12 children. Qualifying parents and caregivers can apply to these programs and secure scholarships that make their family’s education of choice a reality.
Testifying at the hearings were direct beneficiaries of the EITC/OSTC programs—parents, a former student, and leaders at local libraries, daycare/early education facilities and community organizations—all pillars of Pennsylvania’s communities.
The testifiers shared compelling evidence for why the programs need increased funding, such as students with individual learning needs not supported by their local public schools, or single parents who need safe, enriching environments for their children while they work full-time jobs. As parent Ruth Alicea shared, “The scholarships help someone like me to take the pressure off to have to work multiple jobs.”
The detrimental impact of funding cuts was equally emphasized. “Without EITC contributions, our capacity to continue to provide these quality programs will be reduced significantly and the lives and futures of hundreds of youth will be impacted,” said Chris Watts, CEO, Boys and Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania.
When it comes to libraries, EITC funds may only account for a small fraction of their total income, but they represent as much as 80% of the libraries’ children’s programming budgets, according to Christi Buker, CEO, Pennsylvania Library Association. “Without these EITC funds, libraries wouldn’t be able to hold as many programs or serve as many children,” Buker explained.
“If there were more dollars, we could serve more children,” said Zakiyyah Boone, CEO, Wonderspring Early Education, a nonprofit provider of high-quality early childhood education and school-age care serving families in Philadelphia, Montgomery and Delaware counties.
If access to education improvement or opportunity scholarships were taken away, families would feel the immediate impact.
As Boone stated, “Families [would] lose a lifeline. They need this lifeline.”
“Fortunately, Pennsylvania families can rest assured this lifeline will remain,” said Kail. “EITC and OSTC will continue to fund our children’s future.”
Representative Joshua Kail
15th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives