Update: On Feb. 17, SB151 was substituted with SB151 (2nd sub.): Students At Risk of Academic Failure Study. The new bill calls for a study of the issue during the interim session, essentially halting it for this session.
About the Proposal:
SB151: Student Opportunity Scholarships, sponsored by Sen. Howard Stephenson, would have let taxpayers claim an income tax credit for donations they make to “scholarship organizations” that provide scholarships for qualifying students to attend a private school.
To qualify to receive the scholarship, a student must be:
- Low income – the bill defines this as a household annual income less than or equal to 100 percent of the income eligibility guideline for reduced price lunch; and
- Poor performing – receive a score below expected reading level (grades 1-2) or below proficient on a test in language arts, math, science, OR writing (grades 3-11)
Once a student receives a scholarship for any year, the bill allows that student to continue to receive scholarships annually through the tax credit program.
The bill establishes the maximum amount of tax credits that may be awarded annually at $5 million for the first year, increasing by 20 percent in each subsequent year. The fiscal note will grow substantially over time. This money would be diverted directly from the Education Fund.