FL Beancounters: School Choice saves taxpayers money

FL School Choice Savings.jpg

“…taxpayers saved $1.49 in state education funding for every dollar loss in corporate income tax revenue due to credits for scholarship contributions.” -FL Accountability Office

Florida is home to a Corporate Tax Credit Scholarships Program, similar to one being proposed in South Carolina.

In Florida, corporations may receive state tax credits for charitable contributions to nonprofit scholarship funding organizations (or “SFOs”). The amount of credit is equal to the amount contributed and may not exceed 75 percent of tax due for the taxable year. Currently, the total amount of tax credits that may be granted each year is $118 million (up from $88 million when the bill was adopted in 2001). The credits are awarded to corporations on a first-come, first-served basis.

The SFOs provide scholarships for attendance at private schools. Just as in the South Carolina legislation, participating private schools must be deemed compliant with state laws and regulations by the state and students must come from low-income families.

In the 2008-09 school year, 20,810 low-income students in Florida received scholarships to attend 937 participating private schools.

Obviously, any program that empowers the parents of 20,000 students to make real choices about K-12 education is a huge success.

Now the State Government of Florida reports that the tax credit program is also a fiscal success.

According to the State’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability:

The corporate income tax credit scholarship program produces a net savings to the state. We estimate that in Fiscal Year 2007-08, taxpayers saved $1.49 in state education funding for every dollar loss in corporate income tax revenue due to credits for scholarship contributions. Expanding the cap on tax credits would produce additional savings if there is sufficient demand for the scholarships. The Legislature may wish to consider expanding the program when the level of tax credits awarded approaches the cap and there is a sufficient waiting list of students who could use the scholarships.

As the Voice has said time and again, school choice saves public money. School Choice also serves low-income children, especially those trapped in failing public schools. Only those totally committed to putting “the System” over the individual students would use political power and public money to fight against these types of choices for parents.

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