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Senate OKs Tax Credits for Scholarships (May 05, 2011)

A bill that opponents call a back door educational voucher program is now headed to Governor Mary Fallin for her signature. But supporters say the proposal will provide greater educational opportunities for Oklahoma’s low-income children.

The state Senate voted Thursday in favor of Senate Bill 969 that grants a 50 percent state income tax credit to individuals and businesses who give donations to what are called ‘non-profit scholarship granting organizations’.

Senate President Pro Temp Brian Bingman says institutions are not the focus of the proposal.

“The emphasis has got to be on the student,” Bingman said. “If you’re giving a student the chance to be successful, I think this bill – that’s the intent.”

While Bingman and the bill’s author, Representative Lee Denney, say the tax credit shouldn’t hurt state revenues, E-Capitol reports an Oklahoma Tax Commission study showed losses of as much as 4 million dollars by the 2013 fiscal year, and up to 11 million dollars by 2014.

State Superintendent Janet Barresi called the legislation a major step forward in her efforts to change education.

By Kurt Gwartney

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