JC/DC ACTION ALERT: Contact Governor Parson Now –
We OPPOSE Establishing Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program
Missouri PTA is opposed to bills establishing the Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program because this program would create an account that would allow taxpayers to make a qualifying contribution to an educational assistance organization and claim a tax credit. The scholarships will be used in private schools effectively creating a voucher system in Missouri.
The bill received several amendments and will now:
- Offer $50 million in tax credits for donation to one or more nonprofit “education assistance organizations” (EAO). The amount will be increased based on inflation but capped at $75 million. Ninety percent goes to the scholarships, 2% to the state treasurer, and the rest can go to the EA) (up to $4 million).
- The EAO issues scholarships to students who live in Clay, Jackson, Jefferson, St. Charles and St. Louis counties or any city with a population of more than 30,000 to attend a home, private, virtual or public school. Map HB349CountiesCities.jpg
- Any qualified student is eligible for these scholarships, but priority is given to 1) special education students or students eligible for free and reduced lunch, and 2) students whose household earning does not exceed twice the eligibility for free and reduced lunch ($96,940 For a family of 4). To be qualified, a student must have attended a public school for a semester in the last 12 months or be first enrolling in school.
- Scholarship funds can be used for a broad list of reasons:
- Tuition and fees to a private or virtual school
- Educational therapies or services from a licensed or accredited practitioner or provider including, but not limited to paraprofessionals or aides.
- Testing fees
- Fees for a firm to manage the scholarship account
- Classes and extracurricular programs
- Computer hardware or technological devices
- Summer education programs and after-school programs
- Transportation costs for mileage to and from school.
- Scholarships are only available in fiscal years following a year where the legislature appropriates to transportation 40% of the 75% amount necessary to fully fund transportation in 2021. In any year where the appropriation for transportation goes below that amount, no new scholarship accounts can be created, but the existing ones can continue. (Funds do not need to be received.)
- For the first 5 years, if a student leaves a public school or charter school after receiving a scholarship, the school district may continue to count the student for state aid unless the student graduates, returns to a resident public school, or quits receiving the scholarship.
Time sensitive action needed! Contact Governor Parson NOW and urge him to VETO HB349
Dear Governor Parson,
The Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program is not good for students and parents, taxpayers and Missouri’s public schools.
Missouri PTA opposes vouchers in any form because:
Schools receiving the funds are not held accountable for delivering an education.
Teachers are not required to be certified or even have a college degree.
Schools accepting these scholarships are not required to enroll all students.
Schools receiving the funds are not held financially accountable for taxpayer dollars.
Tax breaks already exist for donations to scholarship funds.
As your constituent and voter, I urge you to VETO HB349. This proposed bill will create an unchecked new tax credit program in Missouri that would allow public dollars to be used for private education, without accountability to Missouri students, parents and taxpayers. This program creates further government bureaucracy taking vital education dollars out of Missouri’s public schools that educate all students and strengthen communities.
HB349 would allow any taxpayer who makes a qualifying contribution to the Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program to claim a tax credit equal to 50 percent of the total contribution. The tax credit voucher program would begin at $50 million per year and includes an escalator that would grow the program unchecked with no oversight by the Missouri General Assembly.
This new voucher program would allow for the creation of nonprofit organizations that would be allowed to defer state tax dollars that would normally go to the education of all students, steering resources away from the classroom toward bureaucratic administration.
This legislation would impact every district in the state by limiting the amount of state revenue available to fund public education that serves all students across the state. Public tax dollars used to support all students’ needs including mental health access, classroom supports, and highly qualified teachers must be a priority for the legislature before creating programs that would defer money away from public education.
As your constituent I believe that all students deserve equal access to a free public education. The continuation of our free nation and its strength and well-being depend on our free public schools.
VETO on HB349.
I appreciate you considering this information as you work to support Missouri’s students, families and communities.
Your name and PTA
You can cut and paste this letter in an email for Governor Parson. You can also mail this letter to:
Office of the Governor Michael L. Parson
P.O. Box 720
Jefferson City, MO 65102
Vice President of Legislation and Advocacy
Vice President & Director of Legislation and Advocacy