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House Passes Scholarship Tax Credit (Apr 26, 2011)

OKLAHOMA CITY — The state House on Tuesday passed a scholarship tax credit program Republicans said is intended to help the children of low-income families attend private schools.

The House voted 64-33 for the measure Tuesday and sent it to the Senate for further consideration.

The bill by Rep. Lee Denney of Cushing would allow a tax credit equal to 50 percent of the amount contributed to a scholarship-granting organization up to $1,000 per person, $2,000 per couple and up to $100,000 per business.

The scholarships would pay up to 80 percent of the average per-pupil expenditure in the school district where the student lives.

Denney said the measure is a new source of funding to benefit students who are most at-risk.

"We’re trying to get the kids that can’t afford to make a difference in their schooling," Denney said. "The type of school that they’re in is not meeting their needs. It may be on the needs improvement list. These parents haven’t had an option before and now with this they’ll have an option to take their child to a private school, and be able to scholarship that child to get it the education he or she needs."

But Democratic opponents said the measure is part of the Republicans’ "systematic unraveling of public schools". Norman Representative Emily Virgin said the bill transfers 5 million dollars from general revenue to the wealthiest individuals and corporations who can afford to donate thousands to private institutions.

From Staff Reports

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