Tax credit legislation will help support Catholic, private education



I am writing to ask readers of the RI Catholic to support House Bill 2018 H-7055 and Senate Bill 2018 S-2655, “Relating to Taxation-Tax Credits for Contributions to Scholarship Organizations,” which would increase the aggregate amount of tax credits for contributions to scholarship organizations from $1.5 million to $5 million dollars.

As a parent of two children in the state’s Catholic Schools, and realizing how important this legislation is to education in Rhode Island, I decided to testify at a recent House Finance Committee hearing. I explained that at the current level of $1.5 million, the existing legislation supported approximately 405 children in Rhode Island last year through Scholarship Granting Organizations. If the amount of the tax credit is increased to $5 million this will have an immediate impact on education in Rhode Island by allowing at least hundreds of additional Rhode Island students to attend a private school best suited for them.

The beauty of these bills is that they take no money away from public education, but will actually save Rhode Island money by allowing private schools to educate additional children while funding dollars still stay with the public schools.

The proposed increase of $3.5 million is an extremely modest increase. Please consider the amount of money other states have for similar tax credit programs. Georgia has a program of around $58 million helping around 13,600 students and Florida has around $698 million helping around 106,958 children. If Rhode Island increases the cap to $5 million we will still have one of the lowest tax credit scholarship programs in the country, but helping at least a few hundred additional children is truly a worthwhile endeavor.

When any legislation is passed, benefits are often measured years down the road after implementation. Increasing the cap will provide an immediate benefit to children. While helping even one child it is certainly worthwhile, this is an opportunity to help at least hundreds of additional children. I truly think this legislation is worthwhile and encourage readers to contact their legislators to support these bills.

Matt Fitzgerald, President of the Rhode Island Catholic School Parent Federation