OCPA: Scholarship critics notably silent on millions in tax credits

This year, legislation has advanced to expand the Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship Act by raising the cap on tax credits used to attract private investment in public schools and in private-school scholarships.

Opponents argue tax credits reduce available state funding for schools. But those same critics have been largely silent when it comes to a host of other tax-credit measures that involve at least $116 million in combined fiscal impact on state tax collections.

When Senate Bill 407, by Sen. Dave Rader and Rep. Jon Echols, was scheduled for a hearing in House committee, the Oklahoma State School Boards Association and the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administrators sent an e-mail to their respective members.

It declared, “Increasing tax credits robs the state of potential revenue.” The groups said passage of tax-credit legislation “could make it more difficult to sustain and increase education funding.”

The email also directed recipients to a blog post from the Oklahoma Parent Legislative Action Committee that declared, “Oklahoma must conserve its tax base and invest all available revenue in critical core services including public education,” rather than approve the education tax credit.

Yet the state’s legislative website shows roughly 30 tax-credit measures, involving millions of dollars, have been filed with many advancing through the Legislature this year.

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