March 6, 2021

State legislators find creative new ways for taxpayers to fund private schools

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The St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board has a few thoughts about the Missouri school voucher bill, and they are pretty on point:

If ever there was a Trojan Horse bill sneaking its way through the state Legislature in hopes that Missouri taxpayers wouldn’t take notice, it is House Bill 349. That’s the bill approved by the House Thursday that purports to expand school-choice opportunities for low-income students. Everything about the bill is worded to make it look innocuous and well-intentioned, but it opens the door for the defunding of public education and for taxpayer money to begin funding private schools — possibly to include religious schools.

It is of course not just possible, but probable that the voucher bill will direct public tax dollars to private religious schools–name a single state voucher program that doesn’t. And as the editorial notes, the bill places no limitations on which schools may collect these taxpayer dollars.

But HB 349 also sets these up as a tax credit scholarship. As the board notes:

Everything about the bill’s wording establishes a backdoor method for private schools to finance greater parts of their operations with Missouri taxpayers picking up the tab. The key to everything is the tax credit: When the donors take advantage of it, they get to reduce their tax bill. But it means the rest of the taxpaying public must fill the remaining financial gap, which could total $50 million per year.

Read the full editorial here. And then, if you live in Missouri, contact your state senator.

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