Fighting vouchers in disguise
The BOAST (Building Opportunities for All Students and Teachers) tuition tax credit bill (also known as the Partnership for Student Education and Community Investment Tax Credit) was not introduced in the 2013 General Assembly session, however, it could be introduced again in 2014.
MSEA opposes this tax credit scheme because it is a backdoor approach to providing vouchers to parents of children in private schools by subsidizing tuition at private schools with public tax dollars. This legislation most benefits large businesses by allowing a 75 percent tax credit rather than the currently available tax deduction. Example: a $200,000 state tax liability for a corporation could be reduced to $50,000 if the business donates $150,000 to a private school scholarship organization.
Download a copy of our white paper on rejecting the BOAST bill, vouchers, and neo-vouchers.
This perennial bill is based on a similar tuition tax credit program in Pennsylvania, where the cost to the state is currently $80 million. Due to the tight state budget, BOAST advocates are expected to try to pass the bill with no funding required. However, let’s be clear: any BOAST bill would have a fiscal impact on the public schools. The impact may be delayed for a year or two, but it will be felt in future years.
The BOAST bill diverts attention from what public schools really need. All students deserve the right to great public schools, and it is critical that the state not divert its attention or focus from continued investment in our public schools.
The BOAST Interim Study Report
In January 2012, the BOAST Interim Study Report was released. The Study Group was created and charged with identifying opportunities that would be created by, and risks that would be posed by, the enactment of BOAST, Senate Bill 315, which was introduced most recently in the 2011 General Assembly Session. Numerous concerns were outlined in the report, including the significant potential fiscal impact of the bill and the lack of even minimal levels of fiscal or academic accountability for public dollars.
Read the BOAST Interim Study Report, Report Appendix I, and Report Appendix II
Read MSEA President Clara Floyd’s January 12, 2012 letter to legislators on the BOAST Report
Subsidizing Private Education—At Taxpayers' Expense
Research in Arizona, Illinois and Pennsylvania shows that a majority of students receiving the tax credit benefit already attend private schools and that the programs have pushed private school tuition up. A RAND Corporation study concluded that tuition tax credits rarely benefit poor children.
The General Assembly—not private businesses—should decide where public tax dollars are allocated. It is the job of the elected General Assembly to target valuable state resources.
If enacted, private schools in Maryland would become dependent on state funding as is now the case in Pennsylvania and other states. The state cannot afford to fund two school systems: public and private.
Additionally, private schools that would benefit from a tuition tax credit program are not accountable to the public in the way that public schools are for teacher quality, student achievement, attendance, entrance policies, graduation and dropout rates, and other relevant criteria.
While Maryland continues to face a budget deficit, we could not responsibly afford to authorize new tuition tax credits that subsidize private school tuition.