School Choice Week rocked the country again with more than 11,000 events nationwide this year. Also released during School Choice Week was our annual The ABCs of School Choice, the comprehensive reference guide to every private school choice program in the U.S. Click the respective links for rankings of all 51 programs by family participation, eligibility, and purchasing power.
Delaware – Doran Moreland @Dmoreland9
The Friedman Foundation was honored to tour the Community Education Building (CEB) in Wilmington. This new initiative is a result of the generosity of Bank of America and the Longwood Foundation, and is dedicated to offering a world-class public education experience to more than 2,000 Wilmington students. The CEB will partner with high-performing charter schools and community-based support organizations to achieve its vision of preparing students as citizens of a global village.
Mississippi – Leslie Hiner @LeslieHiner
Again this year, two education savings account (ESA) companion bills for students with special needs are making their way through the legislature, one in the House, the other in the Senate. The Senate version passed the Mississippi Senate Education Committee at the end of January and is headed for a full Senate vote before going to the House. Already in February, the House bill passed its education committee and is headed to a full House vote before going to the Senate.
Maryland – Doran Moreland @Dmoreland9
In his first state of the state address, Gov. Larry Hogan stated, “Our administration will also push for the enactment of the ‘Building Opportunities for All Students and Teachers’ legislation, also known as ‘BOAST.’ It provides tax credits to those who make voluntary contributions to private or parochial schools, and it will help free up more money and resources for our students in public schools.” The Friedman Foundation is closely watching Maryland’s prospects for school choice based on Gov. Hogan’s support for tax-credit scholarships.
Montana – Michael Chartier @mchart1
State Rep. Donald Jones introduced HB 322, an ESA for students with special needs, this past month. The bill received its first hearing in the House Education Committee and will be up for that committee’s vote in the next couple weeks.
Nebraska – Michael Chartier @mchart1
State Sen. Bob Krist introduced the Choice for the Advancement of Nebraska Children in Education (CHANCE) act, which would establish a tax-credit scholarship program. To be eligible for that program should it become law, students must come from families with incomes no greater than the level of income required to participate in the federal free and reduced-price lunch program. Both individuals and corporations are eligible to receive an income tax credit worth 60 percent of their contribution to scholarship-giving nonprofits. There would be an overall cap of $20 million for all credits given by the state. A hearing on the bill by the Revenue Committee is set for March 18.
Nevada – Michael Chartier @mchart1
Gov. Brian Sandoval indicated in his state of the state address his intention to introduce a tax-credit scholarship program funded by business donations, similar to a bill introduced two years ago. The legislation should be unveiled this month. Because of Gov. Sandoval’s commitment and other factors, including a strong coalition of supporters, the Friedman Foundation team actually voted Nevada Most Likely to Succeed in 2015, so keep a close eye on the Silver State.
New York – Leslie Hiner @LeslieHiner
Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed big education reforms in his state of the state address, including a tax-credit scholarship program that provides tax credits for donations to scholarship-giving nonprofits and public schools. According to the New York Daily News, “Hoping to provide lawmakers enough incentive to buck the unions and act, Cuomo pitched two different potential state education aid increases for the coming year—one for $1.1 billion if his reforms are enacted, and one for $377 million if they are not.”
North Dakota – Michael Chartier @mchart1
State Rep. Mark Dosch has introduced two pieces of legislation. The first, HB 1355, is a tax-credit scholarship program for low- and middle-income students. Under the program, businesses could receive tax credits worth 100 percent of their contributions to scholarship-giving nonprofits. The number of credits distributed would be capped at $10 million. The second bill, HB 1254, is an individual tax credit for taxpaying parents covering private school tuition. That credit would be up to $1,250 per child and is non-refundable.