Tuesday, April 26, 2011
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK—More Oklahoma families will be able to send their children to the schools of their choosing, following today’s passage of the Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship Act. The bill will provide partial tax credits to individuals and businesses that donate to nonprofits that distribute private-school scholarships to eligible families.
By a vote of 64-43, the Oklahoma House of Representatives approved the measure, which previously passed the Senate chamber by a vote of 30-14.
“This is another step in the direction of choice for Oklahoma’s parents and children,” Robert Enlow, president and CEO of the Foundation for Educational Choice, said. “We look forward to seeing school choice continue to flourish in the Sooner State, and we are eager to watch other states follow Oklahoma’s lead.”
The Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship Act, sponsored by Rep. Lee Denney (R) and Sen. Dan Newberry (R), would make families with incomes up to 300 percent of the income needed to qualify for the federal Free and Reduced-Price Lunch program eligible to receive scholarships; however, scholarship-giving nonprofits must spend a portion of their expenditures for low-income students in an amount equal to or greater than the percentage of low-income students in the state.
Eligible students, 50 percent of whom must be enrolled currently in public schools, can receive scholarships worth up to $5,000 or 80 percent of the average per-pupil expenditures in the school districts where they reside. With a “cap” of tax credits allowed set at $1.75 million—and with the tax credit itself being worth 50 percent of the donation—the program will provide potentially $3.5 million toward scholarships. The program also provides a separate $1.5 million in tax credits for donations made to nonprofits that distribute “educational improvement grants” to public schools, which is similar to a 10-year-old program in Pennsylvania.
If the Senate agrees to the changes made in the House, the bill will proceed to Gov. Mary Fallin.
About the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice
The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, solely dedicated to advancing Milton and Rose D. Friedman’s vision of school choice for all children. The Foundation promotes school choice as the most effective and equitable way to improve the quality of K-12 education in America.