Florida Legislature passes expansion of tax credit scholarships

Minutes after a dramatic 20-20 tie shot down Florida’s parent trigger bill, the state senate voted 32-8 – and virtually without debate – to support an expansion of tax credit scholarships for low-income students.

The bill, which cleared the state House on a 92-24 vote earlier this week, now heads to Gov. Rick Scott, who is expected to sign it.

Florida’s tax credit scholarship program is the largest of its kind in the country, currently serving more than 38,000 students. It’s funded by corporations that receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit in return for contributions.

The bill increases the cap on contributions by $10.25 million next year, to a total of $229 million. The current cap is $175 million, but by law it was set to rise to $218.75 million next year.

The bill also makes several other changes to the program, including:

* Allowing students entering grades 2-5 and meeting the income guidelines to receive a scholarship even if they had not attended a public school in the prior year. Currently, only students entering K-1 can receive scholarships if they had not previously been in public school.

* Allowing private schools that enroll students with tax credit scholarships to administer the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, which is the state’s main standardized test. Current law does not allow that.

* Allowing the state education commissioner to suspend or revoke a school that accepts tax credit scholarship students if it has “a previous pattern of failure to comply” with state regulations.

Avatar photo

BY Ron Matus

Ron Matus is director for policy and public affairs at Step Up for Students and a former editor of redefinED. He joined Step Up in February 2012 after 20 years in journalism, including eight years as an education reporter with the Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersburg Times). Ron can be reached at rmatus@stepupforstudents.org or (727) 451-9830. Follow him on Twitter @RonMatus1 and on facebook at facebook.com/redefinedonline.



Can someone tell me why all the help goes to families with only low income and yet the working middle class that try to do the right thing recieves no breaks at all. We are breaking our backs trying to keep our kids in private schools because our local school is failing. We might lose our house but at least our kids will have a good education and a religous based background. My husband makes a great living if we were a family four. We have 2adults and 5 children. All by choice. At that time we had health, could pay for private schools, and go out to dinner. Now we are shy by about 500.00 for help of health insurance, school voucher, or food stamps. Yet if he didn’t work maybe we would have health insurance, school vouchers, and more food on our table then we would know what to do with. Our children make principles list and honor roll and love to go to school and again more goes to the low income families that parents are sitting at home while their kids are at school. I do not understand. Were is the help for kids that are achieving. I am mad at our system!!!

I know your pain. We made just a little too much to qualify so our kids are in public school, but I know people who just do not work at all and their kids go to private school. It really doesn’t seem fair. Either make it for everyone or no one. Why reward people to not work?

This administration is taking “the pursuit of hapiness” from our Constitution out of context. Next they’ll say we have the right to a job, a marriage, a home, a vehicle, etc., all at the expense of the middle class! November is very crucial my friends and if we can keep from being distracted by the DRONES, we’ll be moving in the right direction.

Comments are closed.