Lawrence A. Feinberg leads a valuable organization called the Keystone State Education Coalition, which reports on education issues in Pennsylvania.

The big issue today is whether Democratic Governor Tom Wolf will veto a bill to expand the state’s voucher program by $100 million, a bill passed almost entirely by Republicans in the Legislature. He certainly should veto the measure because it will drain resources from the state’s public schools and send students to religious schools whose teachers and curriculum are not as good as those of the public schools.

HB800: Bill that nearly doubles size of tax credit program for private school scholarships heading to Wolf’s desk

PA Capital Star By  Elizabeth Hardison June 11, 2019

Legislation that would nearly double the size of an educational tax credit program that funds private and religious school scholarships was approved Tuesday by Senate Republicans, whose unanimous support for the proposal overpowered the negative consensus among Democrats.

The bill to expand the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) Program now goes to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk for final approval. House lawmakers approved the legislation 111-85 in May. Wolf, a Democrat, has not said whether or not he will veto the expansion, which was sponsored by House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny. He told reporters Tuesday he doesn’t understand how the expansion will be paid for. “I’m trying to fund public education,” Wolf told reporters. “I’m trying to make sure that we have an accountable system in place that I think is underfunded. I have done everything in my power, and I’ve worked across the aisle to get more money for public education. This seems to me  — again, I’ll take a look at it — this seems to me to be at odds with that need of a government and a democracy like ours to support broad-based, accessible public education.”


Pennsylvania budget season fight opens over $100 million increase in taxpayer support for private schools

Morning Call By MARC LEVY | ASSOCIATED PRESS | JUN 11, 2019 | 6:16 PM

Legislation to substantially expand taxpayer support for private and religious schools in Pennsylvania won passage Tuesday in the Republican-controlled Legislature, although Gov. Tom Wolf is signaling that he will block it. The public dust-up ramps up a fight between supporters of public and private schools in the thick of negotiations between Republican lawmakers and the Democratic governor over a roughly $34 billion budget package. The bill passed the state Senate on a party-line basis Tuesday, a month after it passed the Republican-controlled House on near-party lines. Wolf said he would look at the legislation, but not whether he will veto it. “What I’ve heard doesn’t sound real good,” Wolf told reporters after an unrelated news conference in his Capitol offices. Republicans, Wolf said, haven’t explained how they would finance the $100 million cost of the bill, and he criticized tax credits programs as lacking control or accountability. Wolf, who campaigned for office on raising support for public schools, said he is still working to increase aid for a public education system in Pennsylvania he called underfunded. “It seems to me to be at odds with that need of a government in a democracy like ours to support broad-based, accessible public education,” Wolf said. The bill is sponsored by House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny.


Republicans look to boost private school tax credit. Wolf says he doesn’t get it.

WITF Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Jun 11, 2019 7:35 PM

 (Harrisburg) — Lawmakers have approved a bill that would nearly double a tax break for people and businesses who contribute to private school scholarships and similar public school alternatives. They did so with almost no support from Democrats. And now, Democratic Governor Tom Wolf is saying he doesn’t understand why the expansion is necessary. Republicans argue the Educational Improvement Tax Credit helps low-income students who are stuck in bad public schools. Many Democrats say it unfairly routes money away from those struggling schools. The EITC program has grown incrementally and substantially since it started in 2001–often with bipartisan support. But even the Democrats who generally favor the credit say this particular increase is too high. Along with almost doubling it, the bill–sponsored by GOP House Speaker Mike Turzai–adds an automatic 10 percent escalation every year, as long as the credit stays popular. And it raises the income cap for eligible families from $85,000 to $95,000.

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