Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander has certified a petition for circulation to voters that will offer tax credits when Missourians help K-12 school children, including scholarships for students attending Catholic schools.
The proposal, known as the Children’s Education Initiative, was filed with the Secretary of State by Barbara Swanson, a former assistant superintendent of Catholic schools in the Jefferson City diocese. If enough voters sign the petition, the proposal will be considered at the November 4, 2014 election.
“This is not your typical school choice proposal,” said Mrs. Swanson, who during her education career also taught in public schools in Wisconsin, Kansas, and Missouri.
At least 50% of the tax benefit must go to help public schools and another 10% is to enhance special education for children with disabilities, while 40% is dedicated to the nonpublic school scholarships.
“This proposal offers a great way for public and nonpublic schools to work together to improve the education of all children,” Swanson said. Swanson observed that it does not matter if a parish has a Catholic school or not. All Catholic children in the parish can benefit from the tax credits.
The Missouri Catholic Conference (MCC), the public policy agency for the Catholic Church in Missouri, strongly supports the tax credit. “We are asking Catholics to sign the petition,” said Mike Hoey, the MCC executive director.
The MCC has prepared educational materials that have been mailed to parishes. Parishioners will be given the opportunity to sign the petition. Taking into account the normal error rate due to invalid signatures, Hoey estimates between 220,000 and 280,000 signatures will need to be collected.
The Initiative offers a state income tax credit for 50% of the dollar amount a person gives to an education foundation. The foundations can use the funds raised to improve programs in public schools, offer scholarships to attend nonpublic schools or enhance special education programs for children with disabilities.
“There are lot of education foundations already and more can be established to take advantage of the tax credit,” Hoey noted. Hoey said that the MCC has been surprised to discover how many public school districts have private foundations to help them.
Posted: October 4, 2013