May 24, 2013 3:09PM

Support for School Choice Tax Credits Grows Once Implemented

The unanimous decision of the Iowa legislature to expand the state’s scholarship tax credit (STC) program yesterday once again demonstrates that school choice programs grow even more popular once implemented.

Iowa’s STC expansion bill raises the credit cap from $8.75 million to $12 million and expands the types of corporations eligible to receive tax credits for donations to scholarship organizations. The bill adds no new regulations.

Six of the seven states with STC programs enacted before 2010 have subsequently voted to expand those programs. The chart below shows the legislative support and opposition in four of those states. (The expansions in Indiana and Pennsylvania were part of legislation covering other issues so they were excluded from this analysis. The chart includes information for Arizona’s corporate-donor STC program but not its individual-donor STC program, for a similar reason.)


 


Initial Vote For STC Program


Most Recent STC Expansion


State


Year


For


Against


% Difference


Year


For


Against


% Difference

Arizona House

2006


33


26


12%


2012


37


19


32%

Arizona Senate

2006


16


13


10%


2012


20


9


38%

Florida House

2001


76


39


32%


2012


92


24


59%

Florida Senate

2001


33


4


78%


2012


32


8


60%

Georgia House

2008


92


73


12%


2013


168


3


96%

Georgia Senate

2008


32


20


23%


2013


40


11


57%

Iowa House

2006


75


19


60%


2013


97


0


100%

Iowa Senate

2006


49


1


96%


2013


49


0


100%

The most dramatic shift was in Georgia’s State House, which moved in just a few years from a fairly even divide to overwhelming support. Support in Iowa went from overwhelming to unanimous. While Florida’s Senate barely moved, support has grown considerably in the House. Arizona has also had modest increases in support for school choice in both chambers.

A survey by Harvard University’s Program on Education Policy and Governance found that 72 percent of the American public already supports scholarship tax credit programs. The survey found even higher support among parents, African-Americans, Hispanics, and registered Independents and Democrats.

There have not yet been any studies measuring whether support in a given state increases after enacting an STC program, but if legislative support is a reliable proxy then the answer appears to be in the affirmative.