BRIEF: School Choice in the States – July 2021
Gov. Mike Parson signed into law HB 349 and SB 86 containing Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, a tax credit-funded education savings account or “tax-credit ESA” program. Joining Kentucky, this is the second program of its kind throughout the nation and is Missouri’s first educational choice program.
The Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts program currently has a cap of $25 million and offers a 100 percent credit value for those donating to the program. Scholarship accounts are available to students with an IEP or in households making under 200 percent of the federal free and reduced-price lunch threshold ($98,050 for a family of four in 2020–21). Students with IEPs will be prioritized, but otherwise this program will be administered on a first-come, first-served basis. Additionally, students must reside in cities with at least 30,000 residents or be from counties using a charter form of governance. Charter-governed counties in Missouri include Jackson, St. Louis, St. Charles and Jefferson counties.
On Sept. 16, 2021, Kentucky’s Franklin Circuit Court Division 1 will hear oral arguments in a case brought by The Council for Better Education, Frankfort Independent Public School Board (Franklin County), Warren County School Board and a few named parents in Kentucky. They filed suit against the Secretary of the Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet and the Commissioner of the Kentucky Dept of Revenue, alleging that the state’s recently enacted Education Opportunity Accounts—a tax-credit education savings account program—violates Kentucky’s state constitution. The Institute for Justice filed a motion with the court to intervene in the case on behalf of parents who want to use education opportunity accounts for their children’s education. Case pending.
Council for Better Education vs. Johnson, Commonwealth of Kentucky, Franklin Circuit Court Division 1, Civil Action Number 21-CI-00461.
On July 2, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to grant the request of Maine parents, represented by the Institute for Justice, to accept their case against Maine’s law that forbids parents from using town tuitioning funding, a form of vouchers, to access private religious schools—unless those religious schools drop any semblance of religion and operate as secular schools. Attorneys for the parents will file their merits brief on Sept. 3. EdChoice and others supporting the merits of this case will file amicus briefs on Sept. 10. The State of Maine will file their reply brief on Oct. 22; amicus briefs in support of Maine’s arguments will be due Oct.29. Case pending.
Carson v. Makin, Case No. 20-1088, U.S. Supreme Court (2020).
In July, 2021, all parties to this case filed motions for summary judgment. The U.S. District Court in the District of Maryland had earlier warned that no further extensions of time would be granted in this case. Therefore, hearings on the motions are expected in the near future. Case pending.
Bethel Ministries, Inc v. Salmon, Case 1:19-cv-01853-SAG.