Eye on Education

The Other Way Ohio Legislators Want to Expand Private School Scholarships

Ohio House of Representatives

State Rep. Bill Patmon (D-Cleveland) cosponsored this year's tax credit scholarship bill along with state Rep. Andrew Brenner (R-Powell).

Ohio legislators are pushing a double-barrelled attempt to expand publicly subsidized scholarships that allow students to attend private schools.

In this year’s state budget, Gov. John Kasich proposed an expansion of Ohio’s existing voucher program that would make half of Ohio children eligible for private school vouchers. Now state legislators have reintroduced a bill that would create another kind of private school scholarship.

It’s called a tax credit scholarship.

Last year, tax credit scholarship bills stalled in the House and Senate.

Bill co-sponsor Rep. Bill Patmon (D-Cleveland) says he reintroduced the tax credit scholarship bill to give children from low-income families the same opportunities as those from wealthier families.

“It is my intention to see anything done that I can to help educate the children of my district and of Ohio in the best way that I can,” he said. “We need as many opportunities as possible.”

Ohio school district officials have opposed the establishment of tax credit scholarships, calling them “an indirect subsidy for private schools using public tax dollars.”

While Ohio’s existing vouchers are funded directly by public dollars, tax credit scholarships work by giving individuals or corporations a break on their state tax bills if they donate to organizations set up just to award private school scholarships.

Several other states, including Indiana and Pennsylvania, already offer tax credit scholarships.

Patmon says the bill “basically says to business that if you want to directly benefit some children without going through the sausage machine that is state government, here is a way to do that.”

This year’s bill is scheduled for a hearing in the House Education Committee on Tuesday.



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