Tuition Tax Credit Proposals Are Alive and Well
So much for Sol Stern’s contention that parental choice is dying if not dead already. The Washington Times reports that tuition tax credits are gaining traction in Maryland. One supporter sums up the plan in a nutshell:
"The bill is a way of providing increased tax incentives for business to invest in education," said Mary Ellen Russell, deputy director of the Maryland Catholic Conference.
Stern argued that parental choice policies are too controversial; according to him, they’re just too far out to be accepted by mainstream Americans. But as the above quote makes clear, some parental choice proposals such as tuition tax credits are quite similar to existing policies. States provide tax incentives for all kinds of charitable and for-profit enterprises. Any tax credit or holiday means that the state gives up tax revenue, which could have gone to the public schools instead. But when officials suggest a sales tax holiday to help people buy environmentally friendly products, nobody claims that the money should go to the public schools. We accept that the state will forego tax revenue in some cases, and we just argue about which cases deserve exceptions.
It’s true that tuition tax credits haven’t been embraced everywhere immediately. They’ve come up for debate a few times in Missouri without making it into law yet. But as a long-term strategy, Stern doesn’t give them enough credit.