(The Center Square) – Missouri received applications for approximately $1 million in tax credits to fund scholarships to select private elementary and secondary schools during the first two weeks of a new program, according to Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick. More than 800 families applied for the program’s associated scholarships during the period.
Fitzpatrick provided the numbers during a media event to promote the MoScholars program on Friday at St. Cecilia Catholic School in St. Louis after making stops in Springfield and Kansas City earlier in the week. He emphasized the success of the program rests on donations to Educational Assistance Organizations (EAOs)—six approved, non-profit organizations serving eligible schools where select students can use the scholarships. The tax credits are capped at $25 million and increase to $50 million with inflation.
“This is an exciting time and the result of a lot of hard work in the legislature and the EAOs,” said Fitzpatrick, who is running against Rep. David Gregory, R-St. Louis, for the party’s nomination for state auditor.
Fitzpatrick emphasized that the program won’t adversely affect funding or attendance for public schools in the state.
“This does not take away money from the public schools,” said Fitzpatrick, whose mother was a public school teacher in his hometown of Cassville. “When I was budget chairman, we worked to make sure the education formula was fully funded. But many family needs aren’t being met by public schools. And the public schools aren’t equipped to help every kid.”
Fitzpatrick said his view of education changed during his years in the legislature and raising his sons, twins age 6, who are autistic. Currently, the scholarship program only serves Missourians who reside in an eligible city or county – any city with at least 30,000 residents or a county with a charter form of government.
Scholarship applicants must have an approved individualized education plan or live in a household with a total income not exceeding 100% to qualify for the federal free and reduced lunch program. They also must have attended a public school as a full-time student for at least one semester during the previous 12 months.
The monetary contributions to EAOs must be $500 or more to be eligible for the program. Tax credits can offset up to 50% of Missouri state tax liability. The tax credits can be carried forward for four subsequent tax years but aren’t sellable, transferable or refundable.