HARRISBURG, June 11, 2014 — State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams today joined advocates in their call for Pennsylvania to continue helping students pay for a better education in the school of their choice.
Williams and the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center, the public policy arm of the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish organization, urged lawmakers to keep the state’s Education Improvement Tax Credit, or EITC, and its Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit, or OSTC, intact for the 2014-2015 school year.
“This isn’t only for the Jewish community,” Williams said today to about 200 students from the Kohelet Yeshiva High School in Merion Station and the Kosloff Torah Academy for Girls High School in Bala Cynwyd who personally lobbied state lawmakers to support EITC and OSTC. “It can be in the Catholic community, it can be in the Christian community, it can be in the Islamic community.
“There are a variety of communities that depend upon this funding so one can teach their child their traditions, their culture and, most importantly, keep their families together,” he said.
Pennsylvania’s 13-year-old EITC program offers tax credits to businesses that contribute to organizations providing educational scholarships to students. Those organizations then award scholarships to eligible students to attend better schools in the commonwealth.
Tax credits are worth 75 percent of a company’s contribution, 90 percent if the corporation commits to two consecutive annual contributions. The maximum tax credit is $750,000 per company.
Through the state’s OSTC program, scholarships are granted to students who live within the attendance boundaries of a low-achieving school, as determined by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Schools must apply to be part of OSTC. Scholarship eligibility income requirements are the same as the EITC program.
“EITC is a lifeline for many communities that don’t have a lot of money. Some people think the money just pours from the sky. It does not. The reason why I am here today and the reason why your voice is very important is because some lawmakers think EITC is a program they can just take away and not affect anyone,” Williams told the students. “There are millions of young Pennsylvanians who need EITC.”
The senator called the commonwealth’s EITC and OSTC programs win-win because businesses receive tax credits for their giving, which opens the door to low-income students who are then able to receive a better education.
Sen. Williams said the programs, along with charter schools and other programs, provide children from low-performing schools a chance to succeed in life by providing them with expanded educational opportunities.
The Orthodox Union Advocacy Center represents more than 1,000 congregations across the country and leads government advocacy efforts.
As it seeks to expand educational reform and secure greater resources from all sectors for Jewish day schools and the families who use them, the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center works to address the challenge of affordability of Jewish day school education by helping to secure public support and financing.
The center represents the following Pennsylvania schools: Abrams Hebrew Academy, Yardley; Kosloff Torah Academy, Bala Cynwyd; Congregation Beth Hamedrosh, Penn Wynne; Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh; Politz Hebrew Academy, Philadelphia; Scranton Hebrew School; Torah Academy of Greater Philadelphia; Kohelet Yeshiva High School, Merion Station; Perelman Jewish Day School, Wynnewood; Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy, Bryn Mawr; Kesher Israel Congregation, Harrisburg; and The Silver Academy, Harrisburg.