voucher, tax subsidy alert
October 22, 1997
IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUESTED
ISSUE: Pro voucher forces are pushing to enact several voucher bills
and the education tax subsidy proposal before Congress adjourns in early
The Leadership in both the House and the Senate want to pass private
school funding proposals within the next two weeks.
*A House vote on the education tax subsidy in H.R. 2373 is set for Oct
*A House vote on a new (to be introduced on Oct.24) voucher bill, the
Helping Empower Low-Income Parents (HELP) Scholarship Act is slated for
*Pending in the Senate is the voucher amendment to the DC appropriations
bills and the Senate version of the education tax subsidy legislation, S.
1133. The date for Senate floor action on these items will be announced.
National PTA Position:
National PTA supports public funds for public schools and opposes vouchers
and tax benefits to pay for the costs of attending private and religious
Call your senators and representative and ask them to oppose any voucher
proposals or tax credit scheme that would benefit private and religious
schools. Ask House members to vote NO on any voucher plan or education tax
subsidy proposal, like H.R. 2373. Ask senators to oppose any voucher plan
or education tax subsidy (see below) by voting NO on these bills and to
vote NO on a motion to invoke cloture, which would allow for a filibuster
of these private and religious school funding schemes.
Talking Points education Tax Subsidies
* The Gingrich-Coverdell education tax subsidy, H.R. 2373 and S. 1133,
would provide tax subsidies for people who enroll their children in private
and religious schools, who home school their children, and who pay for private
tutoring. This measure would amend the higher education IRA provisions passed
as part of P.L. 105-34 to allow parents, relatives, and corporate entities
to deposit up to $2,500 into an education IRA and make tax-free withdrawals
on the interest and principal to pay for elementary and secondary education
expenses. The projected cost of expanding this measure is more than $2.5
billion over five years and $4.1 billion over 10 years.
* This tax plan disproportionately favors wealthier families, who are
more likely to have the money to save than are families with lower incomes.
Therefore, low- and middle-income families would get little benefit from
the compounding tax-free earnings in an education IRA. Federal policies
should help and improve America's public schools, which educate more than
89 percent of children in grades K-12.
* These federally-created tax-free savings accounts fail to move society
forward on what parents, teachers, and concerned citizens say can improve
the education of all children. These accounts don't help create more effective
schools, improve school safety, provide teacher training, or increase parent
* Instead of diverting scarce resources into tax shelters for the wealthy,
Congress should fully fund programs that are proven to be successful in
helping students learn, such as the Individual with Disabilities Education
Act and Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
*Benefit private and religious schools, not the students.
*Do not ensure parental choice. Schools accepting vouchers do not have
to admit every student seeking admission. Schools select the students they
will not admit.
*Fail to contribute to the overall improvement of public schools.DC Voucher
*Diverts over $7 million for FY 1998 in limited federal resources to
private and religious schools, thereby hurting the majority of children,
who attend public schools in DC.
*Abandons nearly 76,000 students in DC public schools. There are about
78,000 students enrolled in DC public schools. The voucher amendment would
provide about 2,000 students with vouchers. What happens to the vast majority
of youth left behind in schools that get fewer resources?
*Distracts from the real needs of DC public school children. Public schools
are underfunded. Policy makers should be improving these educational institutions
by putting funds into teacher training, smaller class sizes, and building