On Monday state Sen. Ken Paxton, R-McKinney, filed the long-awaited bill — Senate Bill 1015 — that would give businesses a tax credit for donations to a private school voucher program. That came after state Sen. Eddie Lucio’s office denied media reports that the Democrat from Brownsville would file the bill.
A Texas Freedom Network Education Fund briefing paper documents serious problems with tax-credit voucher schemes in other states. Often, for example, tax-credit vouchers simply subsidize tuition for students already in private schools rather than helping needy children as promised by proponents. In fact, some Georgia private schools have worked to funnel voucher donations back to the children of the donors themselves. In addition, tax-credit voucher schemes have led to the creation of a virtual cottage industry of organizations that make money soliciting donations. Lobbyists in Pennsylvania control the state’s largest voucher organizations and use decisions about who gets vouchers to curry favor with lawmakers.
A tax-credit voucher scheme in Texas would open the door to similar problems in this state. In fact, that’s essentially the warning from Gov. Rick Perry’s former education commissioner, Robert Scott. Speaking at a Texas Tribune event in Houston last week, Scott said:
“Whether it’s public funds or it’s siphoned off tax dollars that go into a 501 (c) 3 and they get to hand out the money, the potential for fraud is incredible. Those checks are going to go out and they’re going to find out that those kids don’t actually exist, as we have with charter schools in the past.”
Tax-credit voucher schemes are a racket, which even some of the state’s most prominent Republicans are now acknowledging.