Republican Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill into law Thursday establishing a tax credit to fund students outside of the public school system.
Under HB 1934, all families are eligible for some sort of tax credit ranging from $5,000 to $7,500 per student, which is determined based on their annual income. The bill is a part of the governor’s “ASPIRE” package which includes a teacher raise of up to $6,000 and a recurring investment of $625 million into public education.
“This is a big deal,” Stitt told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Number one, we’re increasing funding and public education by like 20%, so another $625 million. We’re giving every single teacher a pay raise between $3,000 to $6,000, which is super important to me. We’ve got money in school safety to hire more resource officers. Then the school choice portion, every single parent now, if that public school or your ZIP code school is not living up and your kid is not thriving, now you have a refundable tax credit that allows you to take some money and go to the school of your choice. It’s available for every single family regardless of your income, all across the state of Oklahoma to go to a school of your choice.”
Families who choose to homeschool their children will receive $1,000 per student, under the law. Through the “ASPIRE” package, $150 million will be invested into a three-year pilot program for school security, while $10 million will be spent on a three-year literacy program.
State Democrats argued that the school choice law takes funding away from public schools, according to an Oklahoma Senate press release.
“The Republicans continue to expand vouchers at an alarming rate, which promotes competition by excluding students with higher needs and leaves behind our most vulnerable,” Democratic state Sen. Carri Hicks said in a press release. “Approximately 90% of Oklahoma families choose their local public schools. Public funding belongs in public schools.”
Lawmakers throughout the country are pushing for school choice legislation; in March, Republican Arkansas Gov. Sarah Sanders signed a bill into law establishing a universal school program by the 2025-2026 school year. Shortly after, Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a law making the state’s school choice program universal.
“If your son or your daughter is falling into the wrong crowd or being picked on or bullied, you’re gonna move your kid to another school. That’s just what a parent would do,” Stitt told the DCNF. “But if you unfortunately don’t have the means to do that, you’re kind of stuck, right? So that’s why you see dropouts, and you see kids not thriving, and that is what we’re going to unlock for every single parent.”
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Republished with permission from Daily Caller News Foundation