Senator Kris Jordan (R – Powell) introduced legislation, Senate Bill 88, to create a tax credit program for education scholarships in Ohio which would greatly assist needy students across the state while also making it easier for businesses, community organizations, and individual taxpayers to support education in their community.
I commend Senator Jordan for filing this important legislation. It is no secret that right now many of Ohio’s families are struggling economically. This tax credit scholarship is a creative way to ensure students are not bearing the brunt of this struggle. By incentivizing philanthropic giving in a difficult economy, the tax credit scholarship would provide thousands of students across the state with the opportunity to attend the nonpublic school of their choice.
The bill, if approved by the General Assembly, would allow the donation of funds toward education scholarships. Students in both public and nonpublic schools would be eligible to apply for the scholarships which could be used at chartered nonpublic schools. To be eligible, students would need to have an annual family income at or below 300 percent of Free and Reduced Lunch Program eligibility.
Similar tax credit programs already exist in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, where bills passed with largely bipartisan support. In Florida, an extensive analysis by the Legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability found the scholarship resulted in a savings to the state of $36.2 million during the 2008-2009 school year.
The legislation would create a tax credit of up to $1,000 for individuals ($2,500 for couples filing jointly) or up to $300,000 for qualified businesses for donations to qualified scholarship agencies. Scholarships can be worth up to $7,000 for high school students or $4,250 for K-8 students. By law, no less than 90% of the total donations to each organization would go towards scholarships.
In describing the legislation, Jordan said, “With the increasing number of students applying for EdChoice scholarships, it’s clear Ohioans want more of a say in where their child attends school. This new program will offer more families the opportunity to choose which school best suits their child’s needs at little or no cost to them and reduced cost to the state.”
The bill will award up to $20 million in tax credits for taxpayers donating to Education Scholarship Organizations (ESOs). ESOs will be responsible for awarding scholarships to eligible students. The legislation requires all ESOs to be 501(c) 3 nonprofit organizations and to adhere to strict financial and scholarship reporting requirements.
By continuing to advocate for this legislation, Jordan has proven himself to be one of the strongest advocates for school choice in the Ohio legislature. While serving in the House, then-Representative Jordan introduced similar legislation that drew co-sponsors from both parties. Highlighting the bipartisan nature of the legislation, Jordan added, “I’m proud of the support this legislation has previously drawn from both sides of the aisle. School choice is not a Republican or Democratic issue, it’s an issue that both parties can work together on to improve the education of Ohio’s children and the future of Ohio’s families.”