Missouri Senator Mike Cierpiot has introduced Senate Bill 581 (SB 581) which would establish the “Show-Me a Brighter Future Scholarship Act”. The bill was placed on the Informal Calendar on February 18th. The bill aims to establish a scholarship fund to assist income-eligible families who attend school in unaccredited or provisionally accredited districts to attend private schools.
Missouri taxpayers would be able to contribute to the scholarship fund in exchange for a tax credit in the year in which they contributed.
“Since I arrived in Jefferson City in 2011, my efforts in education have focused on helping families with children in poorly performing buildings get into successful buildings. I believe everyone agrees that the best way to solve the problems in our cities is giving the kids growing up there a good education. It's not a quick fix but, is the best fix. SB 581 does exactly that,” Cierpiot said.
The program is similar to empowerment scholarship accounts established in other states, including the Kansas Tax Credit for Low Income Students Scholarship Program, which was enacted in 2014.
Critics of these programs counter that funds should be used to increase funding to struggling school districts rather than incentivize families to leave.
“Some say we should simply increase funding to these schools. History shows us that does not improve them. Kansas City and St. Louis spend enormous sums and failing buildings remain,” Cierpiot said.
“SB 581 caps the tax credit plan at $25 million to start. That means $25 million won't come to General Revenue and with 34% of all General Revenue going to K-12 education it will cost K-12 $8.5 million while removing up to 4,000 kids from it, saving K-12 the full $25 million.”
“I support education reform. Especially when it can help a parent do what's best for their kids. SB 581 will have little impact on the school districts in my Senate district but, it might have a giant impact on the lives of 4,000 kids.”