A plan to increase Pennsylvania’s Education Improvement Tax Credit program, which allows corporations to take tax deductions for up to 90 percent of approved donations to non-profit educational programs and scholarships is getting a second chance, at least on a smaller scale.
Earlier this month Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed House Bill 800, which would have increased funding for the program from $110 million per year to $210 million a year, with gradual increases after that.
The measure would have also increased family income limits for scholarship recipients from $85,000 per year to $95,000 per year.
Wolf had said increasing the EITC fund was not responsible when public schools are in such poor financial shape.
The budget currently being debated in the legislature however, does include a more than $430 million increase in education funding.
Under the newly proposed plan, House Bill 1615, which has been approved by the legislature, the pool of tax credits would be raised by $25 million with ongoing increases. It also increases the salary limit by only $5,000 to $90,000.
The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, which benefits from the EITC program because companies can donate to private and parochial schools, said it is happy to see a compromise plan move forward even if it’s less funding than it had hoped for.
“We are thankful for this compromise,” said Eric Failing, executive director of the PCC.
But he said the organization still hopes more money can be found for the program.
“With an estimated 50,000 students on a waiting list for EITC assistance, PCC will continue to advocate for additional funding in 2020,” he said.
The bill still needs the signature of Gov. Wolf.
Besides the funding level, he had also raised concerns about the accountability of the program, which the new bill doesn’t address.
In vetoing the original bill he stated:
“The EITC lacks proper accountability and oversight, and little is known about the educational outcomes of students participating in the program due to a reporting loophole in the current law,” Wolf said in a statement accompanying his veto. “Even less is known about the scholarship organizations that retain up to 20 percent of each dollar that is supposed to pass through them.”
It is unknown if he will support the compromise plan.