Today the Oklahoma Senate approved a bill that will give businesses and individuals the opportunity to play a role in providing quality education for Oklahoma children. Known as the “Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship Act,” Senate Bill 969 by Senator Dan Newberry, R-Sand Springs, passed with bi-partisan support by a vote of 30 to 14.
“We must give every student an opportunity to learn, if their current school is not providing that, this is a way that we can engage the private sector to rescue them and offer a better option,” said Newberry. “This bill provides more opportunity to students that currently do not have access to quality education.”
Under the bill’s provisions, students that meet financial need requirements or that live in school districts identified for improvement under No Child Left Behind will be eligible to receive scholarships. Businesses and individual contributions will fund the scholarships and the state will grant tax credits to those that contribute. Individuals will receive a 50% annual credit for contributions up to $1,000, $2,000 for married couples filing jointly, and a 50% credit annually for corporations on contributions up to $100,000. There is a limit placed on total annual contributions, totaling $5 million.
Newberry said that the bill will save tax dollars because local school districts will experience a savings on students that are no longer enrolled in the local public school. Remaining students will benefit from money being made available to educate a reduced number of students. He said that the infusion of private dollars will result in a savings and benefit for all students, from both public and private schools.
“Senate Bill 969 increases the amount of money that we spend on primary education in Oklahoma using private sector dollars. I am encouraged by the broad support this bill received today,” concluded Newberry.