Florida to Expand Tax Credit School Choice Program

Close to six thousand people marched together at the Florida State Capitol to hear from legislators and the Governor about the value of the Florida Scholarship Tax Credit program. During the rally, the Senate voted 27-11 in favor of passing SB 2126, which will expand the scholarship tax credit program.

The bill (SB 2126) would add credits for alcoholic beverage and gas and oil severance taxes as well as a form of sales tax paid by some businesses.

The bill also would raise a $118 million cap on the program to $140 million during the budget year starting July 1 and allow for automatic increases after that if the program raises at least 90 percent of the capped amount in a given year.

For the next school year, the bill would increase the vouchers, currently worth $3,950, by about $140 to equal 60 percent of what it costs to send a student to public school. It eventually would grow to 80 percent, or at least about $5,500, in the future.

This is good news. Competition from multiple voucher programs and robust charter school market have certainly contributed to Florida’s test score improvement on the just-released 2009 NAEP reading scores. In 2009, the average NAEP reading scores of fourth-grade students in Florida was 226. This was higher than the average score of 220 for public school students in the nation.

Photo credit: Whitney Tilson.