Oklahoma House passes school choice tax credit bill | News

The Oklahoma House of Representatives approved a bill Tuesday to create a refundable tax credit program for families with homeschooled or private school children but will withhold sending to Gov. Kevin Stitt for an undisclosed amount of time.

House Bill 1934, also called the Oklahoma Parental Choice Tax Credit Act, would create a $1,000-per-student credit for homeschool families. Families with children attending private schools would receive a tiered tax credit allotting $7,500 per student for families earning $75,000 or less and $5,000 per student for families earning more than $250,000.  

According to a statement from House Speaker Charles McCall (R-Atoka), the House is withholding the bill until it reaches an agreement with the Senate on a public education funding plan. McCall also wrote that the House calls on the Senate to pass Stitt’s Oklahoma Education and Parental Choice Plan or negotiate a new public education plan that works for every school in the state.

“We don’t want any more political games played with school funding, and it’s time for the Senate to work with us to create a public school funding plan that works for all,” McCall wrote in the statement. “We are confident we can get this done, and have passed the Senate tax credit plan as a show of good will and compromise. The ball is now in the Senate’s court to meet the House halfway on public education funding.”

Stitt’s plan would allot $300 million to the Oklahoma Student Funds, allowing every school district to receive up to $2 million to improve local schools, $300 million to teacher funding, including Sen. Adam Pugh’s (R-Edmond) Senate Bill 482, and $200 million to the Oklahoma Parental Choice tax credit. 

The tax credit would give students in Oklahoma $5,000 in the first year of the credit program and prioritizes households earning under $250,000 annually. In the second year, students would be given $6,000 and then $6,500 in the third. 

Rep. Jacob Rosecrants (D-Norman), who does not support HB 1934, wrote that it was instead a stand-alone voucher bill for the public education plans and explained the discussions surrounding it on Twitter. 

“The House’s only requirement is the Oklahoma Student Fund to support our rural schools,” McCall wrote in the statement. “We are open to more money through the formula, increased funding to urban and suburban schools, higher teacher pay raises and other Senate priorities, but we are adamant that we must provide needed support to rural schools.” 

Superintendent of Public Education Ryan Walters released a statement Wednesday calling for McCall, Stitt and Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat (R-Oklahoma City) to attend a public hearing on Thursday to discuss the finalization of school choice in Oklahoma. 

“Together we will ensure that no matter what a child’s ZIP code is, school choice will be in the hands of each and every parent throughout our state,” Walters wrote. “Urban parents and suburban parents should have an abundance of options, and rural parents should see the appropriate amount of dollars following their child to each and every classroom.”

This story was edited by Karoline Leonard. Nikkie Aisha copy edited this story.

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