As many of you are aware, Georgia has a program where people and companies can receive a tax credit when they donate money to entities called Student Scholarship Organizations (SSOs). These SSOs provide scholarships to students to attend private schools. The program is popular among parents and donors but is capped currently at $58 million per year. Last year the cap was met in about 11 days. This year the cap was met on January 1st.
The Georgia Department of Revenue has announced that the program hit its $58 million cap for the year on Jan. 1., about three weeks earlier than the money ran out last year.
The General Assembly created the program in 2008 to give Georgia parents who can’t afford private school on their own an alternative other than sending their kids to a public school in a state beset with low test scores and a high dropout rate.
Under the law, individuals who contribute to the scholarships program receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit of up to $1,000, and married couples filing jointly get up to $2,500.
Businesses can receive credits of up to 75 percent of their state income tax liability.
Many people, myself included, think the cap should be raised, significantly. In fact, a new poll released today by American Federation for Children shows strong bi-partisan support for raising the cap and, despite a law suit filed by opponents of the program, strong support for the program itself. According to the poll, 65% of respondents support the program compared to 26% who oppose. In addition, 64% support raising the program’s cap, while 28% oppose. Given that strong support, I’m not sure why the program is still deemed “controversial.”
Other items from the AFP poll:
– Sixty-three percent (63%) favor the Georgia Opportunity Scholarship Program, which would allow
parents to use the money the state has set aside for their child’s education to send them to the public,
private or church-run school of their choice. Three in ten (31%) oppose this program.
– Greater than eight in ten (82%) believe that state-funded educational scholarships should be given in at
least some capacity. The majority (55%) says that all children should have access to these scholarships,
regardless of what school district they are assigned. Eleven percent (11%) believes only low income
students should have access, while 16% say only children in failing public schools should have access.
Just 14% of Georgians believe that scholarships should not be provided at all.
– Voters favor public charter schools by a greater than two to one margin, 66% to 24%.
– Support for public charter schools increases to 72% after hearing that they are independent public
schools that are free to be more innovative and are held more accountable for student achievement.
Discuss all this in the comments.