House Bill 384 sponsored by Rep. Tommy Thompson (D) and Rep. David Floyd (R) is a unique opportunity to help parents exercise their right to choose the educational environment most appropriate for their children. It will also benefit all elementary and high school students in Kentucky. Without your help, it will receive little attention during this session of the General Assembly. Please ask your representative to co-sponsor the bill by calling 1.800.372.7181 and leaving a message for him or her.
When passed, individuals and businesses could contribute money to either a 501(c)3 tuition assistance organization or to the Commonwealth School Improvement Fund and receive a tax credit to offset their state tax liability. Tuition assistance organizations would then provide financial assistance to children attending nonpublic schools. Contributions to the Commonwealth School Improvement Fund would be used to support innovation within the public school system. The legislation caps the tax credits at $50 million allowing for a total of $100 million being available to help students; $70 million would flow to support public education; and the remaining $30 million would be available for tuition assistance for students attending nonpublic schools.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2229) teaches the following:
- Parents have the right to choose a school for their children which corresponds to their own personal convictions;
- This right is fundamental; and
- Public authorities have the duty of guaranteeing this parental right and ensuring concrete conditions for its exercise.
In Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship (#72) our U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have written:
Government, through such means as tax credits and publicly funded scholarships, should help provide resources for parents, especially those of modest means, to exercise this basic right without discrimination.
The passage of HB 384 would help lower and middle income families afford nonpublic school tuition for their children. Thus, this bill provides parents with the opportunity to choose an educational setting that is most appropriate for their children regardless of their income or ZIP code.
The public school system would also benefit from the additional funds generated through contributions to the Commonwealth School Improvement Fund. Further, studies have shown that states with similar legislation have saved millions of dollars as it relates to public education. For example; Florida saved approximately $39 million by virtue of its tax credit program. The savings generated by a tax credit program in Kentucky could be reinvested in the public school system.
Enacting HB 384 promotes the common good by giving all students an opportunity for a better educational experience. Please contact your member of the Kentucky House of Representatives and encourage support for HB 384.
Photo: Kentucky Legislative Research Commission