Bradley Byrne proposes federal tax credits to advance school choice

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Bradley Byrne education
[Photo courtesy of Bradley Byrne]

Alabama 1st District U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne took the lead on Thursday, joining his Senate colleague U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos at a press conference announcing legislation that supports the Trump administration renewed its push for school choice.

At the press conference, Byrne announced the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act , which would give students and parents in Alabama and around the country the freedom they deserve to make educational decisions that are right for them. The legislation does this by offering $5 billion a year in federal tax credits for donations to scholarships for private schools and other educational programs.

“Every student in America should have the opportunity to receive a high quality education, and we can help accomplish that goal through a new federal tax credit,” said Byrne. “This model has succeeded at creating opportunity for students in Alabama, and I am hopeful through this legislation we can create similar opportunities for students around the country.

Byrne, continued, “I applaud the leadership of President Trump and Secretary DeVos to expand choice and freedom in education, and I am committed to working with them and Senator Cruz to see this legislation across the finish line.”

The bill was developed in consultation with DeVos and Cruz, and is the Trump Administration’s official school choice proposal. It responds to president’s State of the Union call for school choice and builds upon the Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO) model that has already been successful in Alabama.

DeVos says the legislation puts “individual needs of students above all else.”

“Every student in America deserves to learn in an engaging, meaningful and personalized way. No student should be denied that opportunity simply because of where they live or their family income,” Secretary DeVos explained. “Education Freedom Scholarships will make a historic investment in our students and their futures, finally putting the individual needs of students above all else. I want to thank Congressman Byrne for his commitment to education freedom and for his continued leadership in Congress on this important issue.”

According to Byrne, the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act will:

  • Create an non-refundable federal tax credit for contributions from individuals and businesses to state-identified nonprofits called Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGOs).
  • Provide for the granting of scholarships to expand students’ access to a variety of educational opportunities, from advanced or remedial courses to private and home schooling to CTE opportunities.
  • Increase opportunity for families to make informed decisions that work for them and their individual needs.
  • Allow states to control their SGO programs, not the federal government.

The Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act is supported by a variety of stakeholders, including the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Catholic Education, Agudath Israel of America, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, American Association of Christian Schools, Association of Christian Schools International, American Federation for Children, ExcelinEd, Americans for Tax Reform, & EdChoice.