OU Praises PA’s Governor Corbett on ‘Educational Improvement Scholarship Credit’
The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (“Orthodox Union”) -- the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization -- praises Governor Corbett on expanding The Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) funding and creating the Education Improvement Scholarship Credit (EISC) in Pennsylvania.
The current EITC program provides millions of dollars each year in scholarships for low and middle-income Jewish families. Together, the newly created EISC program and the newly expanded EITC program will considerably ease the challenge of day school affordability facing the Pennsylvania Jewish community.
EITC funding will increase from $75 million per year to $100 million per year. This increase will allow more families to participate in the program. Previously there was not enough funding for all eligible families to receive an EITC scholarship.
Each year, EITC sets aside millions of dollars in tax credits for corporations that donate to tuition organizations. The maximum contribution for a corporation is now $400,000, a $100,000 increase from last year, and it then increases to $750,000 next year.
This past year, corporations would compete with one another on a first-come first-served basis to receive tax credits. Sometimes a long time donor to the EITC would be locked out due to a lottery system. Now, corporations that have donated to EITC in the past have priority over new first year corporations. In other words, corporations will no longer be discouraged from giving if they gave in the past.
Previously, different types of corporations had different application dates to apply for tax credits. C-corporations were allowed to apply a week earlier than S-corporations. But Jewish schools receive most of their donations from S-corps. Often before the S-corps even had a chance to apply for the credits, most of the EITC money had already been allotted, causing Jewish schools to lose out on hundreds of thousands of dollars. Now, C-corps and S-corps have one application date and no school is at a disadvantage.
“The amendments to the EITC statute and the resultant increase in available tax credits will allow supporters of the Silver Academy to provide more scholarships to our families,” said Stuart Gasner, Director of Development of the Silver Academy in Harrisburg. “More than $125,000 of EITC scholarship tax credits were denied to our school this year because five EITC donor requests were wait-listed and ultimately rejected due to unavailability of tax credits. This coming year, Silver Academy expects a record number of scholarship requests and donors wishing to donate through the EITC program. We are confident that the increase in available tax credits will enable Silver Academy to fulfill all scholarship requests.”
In addition to the new changes to the EITC program, the Educational Improvement Scholarship Credit (EISC) program was introduced yesterday. The EISC, or also known as EITC 2, will use $50 million in tax credits to incentivize corporate support for opportunity scholarships to low-income students living near the state’s bottom 15 percent of failing schools.
“It is most gratifying to know that we have so many dedicated partners in the greatest and most exciting venture -- educating our children,” said Mrs. Besie Katz, Principal of Politz Hebrew Academy in Philadelphia. “I am sure all the schools share my sentiment in expressing gratitude for relentless efforts in the latest EITC and EITC 2 development -- financial investment at its greatest.”
Like the existing EITC, scholarships will be funded by tax-creditable corporate donations to scholarship organizations. This will help students who live in the catchment of a failing school - such as parts of North East Philadelphia. Many of those students are eligible to receive EISC scholarships and that frees up EITC scholarship dollars to be awarded to other children.
Rabbi Shmuel Jablon, Principal of Torah Academy of Greater Philadelphia in Wynnewood, stated: “We are excited by the expansion of the EITC program, which will assist families in our school and throughout Pennsylvania. We want to express our gratitude to the Governor and the Legislature for understanding the importance of this program. We also want to express our appreciation to the leadership and staff of the Orthodox Union for their tireless efforts on behalf of the Jewish community.”
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