Kentucky legislators are introducing bills to expand a tax credit scholarship program that was recently declared unconstitutional.
The program, also known as Education Opportunity Accounts, would have allowed individuals and businesses to receive a tax credit of up to 97% for donations to the scholarship fund. Low- and middle-income families can apply to use this money for private school tuition in the state’s most populous counties.
Lawmakers passed the program in 2021, But it didn’t get off the ground. A Franklin County judge has dismissed the . file Program in October for violating a provision in the state constitution that prohibits the collection of tax dollars for private schools.
Attractive private school advocates This decision. They are asking the state supreme court to hear the case.
Although the tax credit scholarship program is banned, bills from Republican Senator Ralph Alvarado and Republican Representative Josh Calloway seek to expand it.
According to drafts obtained by WFPL News, the laws will raise the income cap for eligible families and expand eligibility across the state. original program Students were only allowed to use funds for private school education if they lived in counties of more than 90,000 people.
“Instead of only helping students in the most populous counties, this law gives students in every part of our state the opportunity to choose the right school, public or non-public,” Alvarado said during a Thursday morning news conference.
Mum Desirae Caudill has joined lawmakers and private school advocates to express her support for the legislation. Caudel said she has transferred her children to a private school due to the “uncertainty of COVID-19.” Caudell, because she lives in Madison County, said she would not be eligible for the current scholarship program, even if a judge had not prohibited her.
“Unfortunately, the cost of the new school often left me with a choice between paying the bills and paying the tuition,” she said.
The new proposals will also allow program funding to grow exponentially. Alvarado’s legislation would allow the current $25 million program to increase by 25% each year, up to $50 million per year. Calloway’s bill, in the House, would allow the program to grow to $100 million annually.
Each proposal would allow high-income families to qualify. The makers of the program passed in 2021 allowed families with 175% of the minimum low-price meals to qualify: about $85,793 a year for a family of four.
Alvarado’s bill increases the threshold to 200% of the threshold for a low-priced meal, or about $98,000 for a family of four. Calloway’s bill increases eligibility to 250% of the minimum discounted price meal, or about $122,562 for a family of four.
We now know with inflation that costs are higher. It’s more difficult for families at the moment, Alvarado said.
The lawmakers said they planned to introduce their legislation on Thursday.
Many public education advocates oppose the tax credit scholarship program because they say it drains money from cash-strapped public schools, and they fear it will create a system of haves and have-nots.