School choice advocates back at Capitol

Posted at 3:42 PM, Jan 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-27 20:20:46-05

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Wearing their signature yellow scarves, School Choice advocates were back at Kentucky's Capitol on Monday.

Private school parents and students rallied for different ways to increase school choice, but they had one specific thing in mind. They want lawmakers to pass a scholarship tax credit bill.

The bill, which is on file as 2020's Senate Bill 110, would give tax credits to people who donate to groups that give scholarships to private schools. Currently, people are able to donate to such groups, but they do not receive a tax credit.

Why the proposed change? School Choice supporters say it'll entice more people to donate, therefore, more money will be available for lower and middle class students to attend private schools.

"Scholarship tax credits will unlock a world of opportunity for kids who currently find themselves on the outside of the best schools looking in," said Senator Ralph Alvarado, the sponsor of the bill.

Proponents of the bill say it will not impact Kentucky's Public Schools because the system depends on donations. However, critics say that's not true.

“Right now, Kentucky is desperate for new sources of revenue. Under Kentucky’s proposed scholarship tax credit bill, $25 million would be set aside to be credited back to donors, with the amount increasing every year," said KEA President Eddie Campbell.

"What sense does it make to take more money away from public education?"

Supporters of the bill say there is a big demand for private school scholarships and, currently, not enough money to meet that demand.

"There are not enough funds to around for all the parents whose kids are currently trapped in a failing school system," said Sen. Alvarado.

Supporters believe these scholarships will open up opportunities for families that would not be able to afford private school tuition. However, critics say these tax credits actually help the rich.

"Let’s call scholarship tax credits what they really are—private-school vouchers and tax shelters for the wealthy that take money away from public school students across the commonwealth," said Campbell.

"They are tax loopholes created for corporations and wealthy individuals, cloaked as charity for poor children."

A tax credit bill has been proposed the past two legislative sessions. Last year, it failed to make it to a committee vote.