BRIEF: School Choice in the States, March 2017
Need a record of March 2017 school choice happenings in the states? Our roundup has you covered.
LEGISLATION AND LITIGATION
The Arkansas House Education Committee passed SB 746, a scaled-down version of HB 1222 which previously failed to pass. SB 746 failed to pass the Arkansas House on March 31. Both bills would have created a tax credit-funded education savings account program. Learn more about both of these bills here.
HB 15, a bill that would increase the size of the scholarships students receive through the state’s Tax Credit Scholarship Program, passed the Florida House PreK–12 Appropriations Subcommittee and is now pending before the House Education Committee. However, the subcommittee removed parts of the bill that would have expanded the eligibility and funding for the Gardiner Scholarship education savings accounts for students with special needs, as well as a provision that would have expanded eligibility for the McKay Scholarships for students with special needs to include students who hadn’t previously attended a district or charter school for an entire year.
The Georgia Senate passed an amended version of HB 217, a bill that would expand the tax credits available through the state’s Qualified Education Expense Tax Credit from $58 million to $65 million. The Georgia House previously passed a version that would have scaled up the credits to $100 million over six years. The bill is now pending before a committee of conference.
The Minnesota House passed HB 4, a tax bill that included two school choice programs. The bill would create a new tax-credit scholarship program for low-income students and expand the state’s personal-use K–12 Education Credit, raising the maximum amount of the credit and allowing parents to claim the credit for private school tuition in addition to non-tuition educational expenses. Additionally, the Senate E–12 Finance Committee passed SF 256, a bill that would create a means-tested tax-credit scholarship program, and it has been referred to the Taxes Committee. A companion bill, HF 386, is currently before the House Taxes Committee.
Both the Mississippi House and Senate agreed to a committee of conference report regarding a scaled-down version of HB 1046, a bill that would expand Mississippi’s Dyslexia Therapy Scholarship program. The bill now heads to Gov. Phil Bryant for his signature.
The Missouri Senate Education Committee passed SB 313, a bill that would create a tax credit-funded education savings account program for students with special needs. The bill is now pending before the full Senate.
Two education savings account (ESA) bills were introduced in Nevada. SB 359 and SB 506 are identical bills that make administrative changes to the state’s ESA program and make the necessary appropriations to fund the program. Most notably, the bills would move the ESA from the Treasurer’s office to the state Department of Education. Both bills are awaiting hearings in the Senate Education Committee.
The New Hampshire Senate passed SB 193, a bill that would create a nearly universal education savings account program. It is currently pending before the House Education Committee. Learn more about this potential program here.
The Pennsylvania General Assembly, by a vote of 147–39, passed SB 250, a bill that would expand the tax credits available through the state’s Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program and Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program from a combined $125 million to $175 million. The bill now heads to the Senate floor.
Texas’s SB 3, a bill that would create an education savings account program and a tax-credit scholarship program, passed the full Senate in an 18–13 vote. The bill now heads to the House Education Committee. Learn more about these potential programs and the amendments the bill has undergone here.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed HB 1605, a mostly symbolic bill which, due to a “re-enactment clause,” would only have created an education savings account program if the next legislature passed the same bill again.
West Virginia’s SB 273 passed out of the Senate Education Committee as a committee substitute bill. It would create a pilot education savings account program capped at 1,000 students with a $3 million appropriation. It is waiting now in the Senate Finance Committee.