Georgia’s Tuition Tas Credit Scholarship Program, which has no accounatability and no reporting requirements, takes $50 million out of the state’s budget and places it with private K-12 schools, which are free to discriminate basen on religion and sexual orientation. While the program was allegedly set up to help poor families get their kids out of poorly performing public schools rather than help the public schools (so there’s that, too), that’s not the way it’s panning out. And now the Georgia General Assembly has plans to expand the program to gut the state budget for $100 million a year.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer Jay Bookman explains the deal:
Let’s take a minute to review how the program works: As a Georgia taxpayer or corporation, when you contribute a dollar to a private-school scholarship program, an offsetting dollar is deducted directly from your state tax bill. For example, if you have a state tax bill of $2,500 and donate $2,500 for a scholarship, your tax bill falls to zero. Since 2008, the program has diverted more than $170 million of state tax revenue to private schools.
According to its supporters, the program was supposed to help finance private-school scholarships for poor children stuck in underperforming public schools. Oddly, though, the law contained no means-testing for recipients, and it quickly became obvious why. The program was a scam. Once it was passed, supporters started openly pitching the program as a means for affluent parents of children already in private school to arrange a state tax subsidy.
“You can take this chunk of money and be able to say, “No, I want this money to go to education, and not just education, I want it to go to the school of my choice, and maybe even more detailed, (to) the student of my choice,” one legislator told parents.