Wolf says he will veto bill to expand tax credits for private, religious school scholarships

Democratic legislators gather around Gov. Tom Wolf at a Capitol press conference. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

Gov. Tom Wolf will veto a bill to expand a tax credit program that funds private and religious school scholarships, he told the Capital-Star on Wednesday.

“I’ve seen enough to know that this is not something I think is good for Pennsylvania,” Wolf said after an event in Philadelphia.

The legislation, sponsored by House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, would increase the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) Program budget from $110 million to $210 million immediately after passage — the largest single-year increase since the program was created in 2001.

Under the bill, the program cap would also increase by 10 percent in years where 90 percent of the credits are claimed.

“It distracts from what we ought to be focusing on, which is educating every child through our public school system,” Wolf said Wednesday.

Bill that nearly doubles size of tax credit program for private school scholarships heading to Wolf’s desk

The House passed the legislation 111-85 in May, while the Senate voted 28-21 to approve the bill on Tuesday.

Currently, there is not enough support in either chamber to override a veto from Wolf.

“As the governor knows, we are preparing to increase our funding for public education in the forthcoming budget, and the increase in EITC funding is an appropriate complement to that investment in our public schools,” Turzai said in a statement after the bill’s passage in the upper chamber.

Sarah Anne Hughes
Associate Editor Sarah Anne Hughes covers the governor and Pennsylvania's agencies. Before joining the Capital-Star, she was the state capitol reporter for Billy Penn and The Incline, and a 2018 corps member for Report for America. She was previously managing editor of Washington City Paper, editor-in-chief of DCist, and a national blogger for The Washington Post.
John L. Micek
A 3-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning political reporter, Micek’s career has taken him from small town meetings and Chicago City Hall to Congress and the Pennsylvania Capitol. His weekly column on U.S. politics is syndicated to 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. He also contributes commentary and analysis to broadcast outlets in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Micek’s first novel, “Ordinary Angels,” was released in 2019 by Sunbury Press

5 COMMENTS

  1. You’ve got to admire Liz’s dedication to opposing school options for others, especially as she enjoys it for her own family!

  2. Pennsylvania’s current maximum annual household income for EITC eligibility ($85,000, BEFORE add-ons per child) is among the most generous of the means-tested school choice programs. I’m sure school enrollment officers wish it were higher as the program is often used as an enrollment tool.

    To fill seats, schools often award EITC scholarships to middle-class families who, through more frugal living, could afford the tuition. Schools aren’t going to tell parents to prioritize tuition and skip the trips to Disney or buy a smaller car. Financial aid, through EITC funds, allows schools to enroll more students than they could otherwise but also helps subsidize the lifestyles of many families.

    When some say, “Tax-credit scholarship programs provide options for parents”, those options often include a better lifestyle at the expense of taxpayers and truly needy students.

  3. He seems to really hate children, he supports murdering them before birth, and depriving them of the chance for a quality education after birth!

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