Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf is set to veto a bill that expands taxpayer support for private and religious schools by $100 million.
The bill would double the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC), allowing corporations to divert state taxes to support private and religious schools. The bill also allows the tax credit to grow automatically by 10 percent in any year that 90 percent of the credits are claimed and expands the number of students who may apply for scholarships to private schools, raising the maximum household income of applicants from $85,000 to $95,000.
This bill comes as part of a suite of legislation aimed at reforming Pennsylvania’s charter schools, including a bill to open up charter schools’ access to state facilities, a bill allowing charter school students to receive credit for college classes, and a bill establishing standardized processes for opening and operating a charter school.
Wolf has indicated he will veto the bill, stating that “[i]t distracts from what we ought to be focusing on, which is educating every child through our public school system.”
House Speaker Mike Turzai, who sponsored the bill, defended the $100 million increase, noting that it represents less than 1 percent of the state and local tax dollars spent on public schools:
As the governor knows, we are preparing to increase our funding for public education to even higher record levels in the forthcoming budget, and the increase in EITC funding is an appropriate complement to that investment in our public schools.
The state legislature will likely be unable to overturn Wolf’s veto of the bill, which narrowly passed both houses of the Republican-backed state legislature along party lines.