As we continue talking to legislators this session about the need for a scholarship tax credit program, we’re often told that the state doesn’t have the money in the budget. While we’ve made the case many times that scholarship tax credits have been shown to save money in the 18 states with programs implemented, lawmakers continue to use that same, disproven argument, despite what the data shows. Yet at the same time, many are filing other tax credits of their own.
More than a dozen bills have been filed this session either establishing new tax credits or expanding existing ones. Unlike the current proposed scholarship tax credit bill that includes a $25 million cap on credits awarded, many of those newly proposed don’t include any cap, making their long-term fiscal impact impossible to measure.
Many of the same lawmakers who voted for the $100 million Hollywood tax credit or who support the nearly 50 tax credits the state currently offers think $25 million to help rescue kids from failing schools is too much. It brings into question legislators’ priorities and why low-income children and their education don’t rise to the top of that list.
At a time when even Mississippi has surpassed our commonwealth in grade-school academic performance, legislators are focused on credits for airport noise mitigation and electric vehicle supply equipment.
This is not to say that some of these tax credits aren’t without merit. But if we have it in the budget to grant tax credits to volunteer firefighters (who have three tax credit bills filed on their behalf) and small business farmers, why not poor families looking to break the cycle of poverty with a better education for their children?