State Tax Rebate Program Signed Into Law
Just weeks after signing a historic statewide expansion of school vouchers, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal on Monday signed into law the creation of a statewide scholarship tax rebate program, bringing yet another educational victory to low and middle-income families across Louisiana.
The American Federation for Children — the nation’s voice for school choice — praised the governor and a bipartisan coalition of state legislators for their support of House Bill 969, which allows individuals and businesses to receive a rebate for money donated to organizations that grant private school scholarships to eligible students.
Creation of the tax rebate program coincides with the recent expansion of the highly-successful New Orleans Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence (SSEE) voucher program. The expanded program — signed into law by Jindal on April 18 — creates eligibility for nearly 380,000 children throughout the state to receive a voucher to attend a participating private school of their parents’ choice.
“This is an exciting time for Louisiana as the state’s leaders have worked tirelessly to expand and create multiple educational choice options for those families most in need,” said Betsy DeVos, chairman of the American Federation for Children. “We commend Governor Jindal and the state’s legislators for fighting to ensure a quality education and brighter future for thousands of children throughout the state.”
The rebate legislation, which passed with significant bipartisan support in both the state House and Senate at the end of April, grants scholarship eligibility to children in families with a household income of less than 250 percent of the federal poverty guideline (less than $57,625 for a family of four per year). All students entering kindergarten or currently enrolled in a public school are eligible to receive a scholarship. Students attending schools rated “D” or “F” by the state will receive first priority in the program.
AFC and its allied organizations—including the Louisiana Federation for Children and the Louisiana chapter of the Black Alliance for Educational Options—have been at the forefront of the school choice movement in Louisiana since beginning the fight for the SSEE program in 2007, working to strengthen and expand school choice in Louisiana, educating and mobilizing thousands of parents and supporters, and recruiting bipartisan support for school choice in the state.
The tremendous progress in Louisiana is an important part of the nationwide momentum for school choice. During the 2011-12 school year, there were 27 publicly-funded private school choice programs serving more than 210,000 children across the country.