More Business Dollars to Support Education Through Tax Credit Program

May 12, 2015

New legislation would increase tax credits for businesses that decide to donate to schools and students in kindergarten through high school.
Credit Flickr User Shinichi Sugiyama

More Pennsylvania students and schools would benefit from private funding if State Representative Jim Christiana’s bill to expand two education tax credit programs becomes law.

House Bill 752 moved out of the house Monday on a 166-26 vote.  The measure would increase the amount of tax credits available to private businesses that donate to schools and students through The Education Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program and the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program, according to Christiana (R- Beaver, Washington). It would not change the way the donated dollars are distributed among schools and students.

“The reason for the necessary expansion is that both programs are over-subscribed and have been very successful,” Christiana said.

One provision in the bill calls for an increase to $100 million from $60 million in tax credits for donations to scholarship organizations. Despite the state’s current budget problems, the legislation had bipartisan support and Christiana said it will not greatly affect the state’s tax revenues.

“One hundred million dollars is obviously a substantial investment, but when you look at the totality of the state budget of 28 to 29 billion dollars, it does represent a fraction of one percent,” Christiana said.

According to Christiana, the additional tax credits would lead to benefits for students across the board.

“The EITC program helps provide scholarships for students going to private institutions, but it also provides funding for public schools and pre-kindergarten programs,” Christiana said.

Christiana said in the end, the benefits to students in Pennsylvania outweigh the costs to the state.

“Thirty thousand more students would be able to utilize these funds for an alternative learning environment.” Currently, more than 50,000 students benefit from the EITC program.

The measure now goes to the senate for consideration.