Education Investment for Oklahoma Act Passes the House

Mike Seals - May 20, 2021 10:28 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma House of Representatives today passed Senate Bill 1080, the Education Investment for Oklahoma Act.

SB 1080, by House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, was presented by House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City. The bill modifies an existing state program to support public schools and give low-income families the opportunity of specialized education.

“This policy cares about all kids in all parts of Oklahoma. It’s a huge win for kids, for Oklahoma and for our shared future,” said Echols. “Options for parents, opportunities for children and support for all public schools are things everyone should get behind, and I am proud the House did exactly that with this bill.”

The program provides tax credits to donors who voluntarily donate funds to support education. The grants can be used by families for scholarships to private schools and by public schools for innovation or classroom support.

The bill increases to $50 million the amount of tax credits available for the program, with $25 million for public schools and $25 million for scholarships to private schools. The bill also adds transparency by increasing reporting requirements of the private schools’ scholarship granting organizations.

SB 1080 makes the following adjustments to the existing program:

  • Adds public school foundations and non-foundational public school districts as eligible entities to receive donations under the same terms as existing public school donations.
  • Allows all school districts to receive donations by removing current geographic restrictions on districts eligible for donations.
  • Raises annual tax credit cap to $25 million each for public schools and scholarships.
  • Increases regular accountability reporting to the public and policymakers.

“This bill received overwhelming public support and increases opportunities for Oklahoma children,” said McCall. “The program is entirely privately funded and encourages those who can to give back to schools and support children with financial hardships or special needs. Passage of this bill invests in our kids and the future of Oklahoma.”

Since 2014, Oklahoma has given public schools increased access to private donations while making scholarships for private schools funded by tax-deductible private donations available to more families – all without reducing state public school spending. SB 1080 continues that progress by making more families and more public schools eligible for privately-funded support.

SB 1080 passed 63-36 and goes to the governor.

 

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