Here’s a brief update of what’s going on in the world of school choice in the United States!
The Arkansas House Education Committee passed SB 746, it was a scaled-down version of HB1222, which had previously failed to pass. SB 746 also failed to pass the Arkansas House on March 31. Both of the bills would have created a tax credit-funded education savings account program. Learn more about both of these bills here.
HB 15, a bill that would increase the size of the scholarships students receive through the state’s Tax Credit Scholarship Program, passed the Florida House PreK–12 Appropriations Subcommittee and is currently pending before the House Education Committee. The subcommittee removed parts of the bill that would have expanded the eligibility and funding for the Gardiner Scholarship education savings accounts for students with special needs. This bill would have also expanded eligibility for the McKay Scholarships for students with special needs to include students who hadn’t previously attended a district or charter school for an entire year.
The Georgia Senate passed an amended version of HB 217. This is a bill that would expand tax credits available through the state’s Qualified Education Expense Tax Credit from $58 million to $65 million. The Georgia House previously passed a version of this bill that would have scaled up the credits to $100 million over six years. It is now pending before a committee of conference.
The Minnesota House recently passed HB 4. It is a tax bill that included two school choice programs. HB 4 would create a new tax-credit scholarship program for low-income students and expand the state’s personal-use K–12 Education Credit. This would raise the maximum amount of the credit and allow parents to use the credit for private school tuition in addition to non-tuition educational expenses. Additionally, the Senate E–12 Finance Committee passed SF 256, a bill creating a means-tested tax-credit scholarship program, which has now been referred to the Taxes Committee. A companion bill, HF 386, is currently before the House Taxes Committee.
The Mississippi House and Senate agreed to a committee of conference report regarding a scaled-down version of HB 1046. HB 1046 would expand Mississippi’s Dyslexia Therapy Scholarship program. The bill is currently headed to Gov. Phil Bryant for his signature.
The Missouri Senate Education Committee passed SB 313 recently, a bill that would create a tax credit-funded education savings account program for students with special needs. The bill is now pending before the full Senate.
Recently two education savings account (ESA) bills were introduced in Nevada, SB 359 and SB 506. They are identical bills making administrative changes to the state’s ESA program and make the necessary appropriations to fund the program. These changes to the bills would move the ESA from the Treasurer’s office to the state Department of Education. Both bills are awaiting hearings in the Senate Education Committee.
The New Hampshire Senate passed SB 193, which is a bill that would create a nearly universal ESA program. This bill is currently pending before the House Education Committee. Learn more about this potential ESA program here.
The Pennsylvania General Assembly, by a vote of 147–39, passed SB 250, a bill that would expand the tax credits available through the state’s Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program and Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program from a combined total of $125 million to $175 million. The bill is now headed to the Senate floor.
Texas’s SB 3, a bill that would create an education savings account program and a tax-credit scholarship program, passed the full Senate in an 18–13 vote. SB 3 now heads to the House Education Committee. Learn more about the potential programs and the bills amendments here.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed HB 1605, a mostly symbolic bill which, due to a “re-enactment clause,” would only have created an education savings account program if the next legislature passed the same bill again.
West Virginia’s SB 273 passed out of the Senate Education Committee as a committee substitute bill. The bill would create a pilot education savings account program. It would be capped at 1,000 students with a $3 million appropriation. It is currently waiting in the Senate Finance Committee.