BRIEF: School Choice in the States, March 2018
LEGISLATION AND LITIGATION
California’s proposed tax-credit scholarship, AB 2480, saw amendments and was re-referred to the Standing Committee on Revenue and Taxation. The state’s proposed education savings account, SB 1344, was referred to various committees and is set for a hearing.
Connecticut introduced HB 5340, an act to study the creation of education savings accounts in the state. The bill received favorability from and was reported out of committee and has been filed with the Legislative Commissioner’s Office.
The Florida legislature passed and Gov. Rick Scott signed HB 7055, an omnibus education reform bill that, among numerous changes, expanded the state’s tax-credit scholarship program and created the Hope Scholarship Program, the first educational choice program in the country specifically for victims of bullying and abuse.
The Georgia General Assembly passed HB 217, a bill which nearly doubles the amount of tax credits available for the state’s Qualified Education Expense Tax Credit. The bill is currently awaiting the signature of Gov. Nathan Deal.
The state’s tax credit-funded education savings account bill, HB 590, failed to pass before the end of Idaho’s legislative session.
A bill that would increase Illinois’s individual tax credit from $750 to $1,500, HB 4830, was assigned to the Revenue and Finance Committee. Various bills related to the state’s new tax-credit scholarship also moved, including one, HB 5191, that would require participating private schools to comply with all state and federal provisions pertaining to special education and the instruction of English learners.
The Iowa Senate Appropriations Subcommittee introduced and passed SSB 3206 by a vote of 3-2. The bill would create an “education savings grant” which would allow eligible students to spend their money on a wide variety of educational expenses. The bill is awaiting a hearing in the full committee.
The Kentucky Senate amended HB 6 to include a tax-credit scholarship program. The bill still has to go back to the Kentucky House of Representatives before final passage.
SB 187, the budget reconciliation and financing act, increases Maryland’s BOOST voucher from $5.5 million to $8.85 million in 2018–19. The voucher also received an increase last year. The bill was read for a third time March 27 and would also require more reporting requirements for participating private schools and prioritize students who previously attended a public school among first-time applicants.
The New Hampshire House of Representatives passed HB 1686, a bill that would allow donors to scholarship organizations to receive a tax credit against the interest and dividends tax. Its next stop will be the Senate Finance Committee.
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló signed C. 1441, a major education reform bill for the island that contains enabling language for a voucher. If carried out by the territory’s Department of Education, students would be able to use vouchers to attend private schools beginning in the 2019–20 school year. Vouchers would be capped at 3 percent of the island’s student population, with the ability to grow to 5 percent in subsequent years. Check back on the EdChoice blog for more on Puerto Rico’s path to school choice soon.
SB 2655, which would increase Rhode Island’s tax-credit scholarship to $5 million in 2019, was introduced and referred to the Senate Finance Committee. Two related bills were introduced in January and February. The program’s current budget cap is $1.5 million.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed SB 117, which removes the requirement listing how scholarship-granting organizations must disburse payments for the state’s tax-credit scholarship. He also signed HB 1221, which expands the tax-credit scholarship to include tribally controlled schools.
Lawmakers filed HB 490, the Special Needs Opportunity Scholarship Program. The bill would create a tax-credit scholarship for students with an Individualized Service Program to attend private school. Scholarship-granting organizations would award scholarships up to 90 percent of Utah’s weighted pupil unit for students with special needs (roughly $7,450). The dollar-for-dollar tax credits are non-refundable and cannot also be applied to the state’s charitable donation deduction. The state has an existing voucher for students with special needs. Participants of the voucher would also be eligible for the tax-credit scholarship.