BRIEF: School Choice in the States April 2016
LEGISLATION AND LITIGATION
Georgia – Brittany Corona @BrittanyLCorona
HB 243 was recommitted to be heard in the Georgia House Ways and Means on April 2. The bill would create a nearly universal education savings account (ESA) program for any student in the Peach state who was enrolled in public school the preceding school year. You can learn more about how ESAs work in this quick video.
Minnesota – Brittany Corona @BrittanyLCorona
The Minnesota House Education Tax Committee heard HB 1369 on April 6. The bill would create a tax-credit scholarship program for students whose household income does not exceed the federal free and reduced-price lunch threshold and have attended public school for the first time or the semester prior to application. The program allows taxpayers an 80 percent tax credit for donations to scholarship granting organizations. To learn how tax-credit scholarships work, watch this short video.
Mississippi – Michael Chartier @mchart1
The Mississippi legislature passed and Gov. Phil Bryant signed HB 33, a technical change to the state’s ESA program for students with special needs. The bill allows any child who has had an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) in the last 5 years to receive an ESA. Before this change, the ESA program was open only to students who had an IEP 18 months prior to application.
Missouri – Brittany Corona @BrittanyLCorona
The Missouri House passed on April 27 HB 1589 and HB 2307, bills that would create an ESA program that is funded like a tax-credit scholarship program. The bills are now in the Senate Jobs, Economic Development and Local Government committee. The ESA would allow taxpayers to donate to educational assistance organizations (EAOs), nonprofits that provide scholarships to prior public school students with special needs, in return for a 75 percent tax credit. Parents can then use their scholarship accounts to pay for a variety of learning services and providers.
Montana– Michael Chartier @mchart1
A judge in the United States District Court for the District of Montana dismissed Armstrong v. Kadas in April. The Pacific Legal Foundation filed the lawsuit in December on behalf of a Missoula family to challenge the Montana Department of Revenue’s regulations prohibiting religious schools from participating in the state’s new tax-credit scholarship program. The Armstrong v. Kadas case was dismissed last month because a preliminary injunction to stop the “anti-religious schools” rule was put in place in the state court case Espinoza v. Department of Revenue at the end of March.
New Hampshire – Leslie Hiner @LeslieHiner
The New Hampshire Senate Education Committee, in a 5-0 vote, recommended sending HB 1637 to an interim study committee. The bill clarifies existing law that allows towns to provide students tuition to attend neighboring-town and non-religious private schools. The full Senate will consider this recommendation in early May.
Nevada – Michael Chartier @mchart1
Legal briefings for those looking to appeal the preliminary injunction that has halted Nevada’s ESA program were due to the Nevada Supreme Court last month. The court issued the injunction against the program in January in Lopez v. Schwartz.
IN OTHER NEWS
Competition is the key to transforming education in the United States, and one policy is proved by the data to drive more improvement than others, according to our April report, Pursuing Innovation. In it, Authors Anna J. Egalite and Patrick J. Wolf examined the performance of America’s K–12 education system, identified the market share of different types of educational choice options and analyzed how effective open enrollment, charters, and private educational choice programs are at improving student outcomes.
Friedman Foundation State Programs Director Brittany Corona also presented at the Christian Union Nexus conference at Yale University on education policy and school choice reform in April. The event brought in students from Yale, Harvard University, Princeton University, New York University, Dartmouth College and other prestigious universities to discuss principled vocation in the public sphere.
Colorado – Brittany Corona @BrittanyLCorona
Corona also taught a seminar last month at Colorado Christian University on capitalism, poverty, education policy, and school choice reforms on behalf of the Friedman Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute Values and Capitalism project.
Texas – Brittany Corona @BrittanyLCorona
The Friedman Foundation hosted a fact-finding trip in Arizona for Texas business leaders on April 3. The group visited schools in the state that accept students with ESAs. They also heard from Heritage Foundation fellow Lindsey Burke, Foundation for Excellence in Education fellow Matthew Ladner and Friedman Foundation team members Robert Enlow and Brittany Corona on education savings account policy and implementation.