We are very troubled that one of Pennsylvania's most successful programs, which last year provided educational support for 44,000 students in grades K-12 and 6,000 pre-kindergarten aged children, is in jeopardy of being significantly cut as a result of the state's budget shortfall.
Since 2001 the Pennsylvania Educational Improvement Tax Credit program has provided thousands of students from low-income families with an opportunity to attend schools and pre-kindergarten programs of their choice. It also has provided funding to support innovative educational programs in public schools.
The Pennsylvania Senate passed a budget bill, SB 850, last month that called for the significant reduction or elimination of many programs, in an attempt to bring the upcoming 2009-2010 state budget into line with projected revenue. This bill calls for the reduction of the EITC program by $35 million. Of this $35 million reduction, $22.3 million will come from the elimination of the innovative educational programs for public schools. The remaining $12.7 million will come from some combination of the K-12 scholarships and pre-K scholarships funds.
We believe cutting the EITC program would be shortsighted, as it could deprive hundreds of children of a high-quality education and supportive enrichment programs. Therefore, we urge the Pennsylvania General Assembly to keep the EITC program at its current level of funding, $75 million.
DANIEL H. SHAPIRA
Chair, Pittsburgh Jewish Educational Improvement Foundation
REV. KRIS D. STUBNA
Secretary for Catholic Education, Diocese of Pittsburgh