TALLAHASSEE, Fla. /Florida Newswire/ -– Governor Charlie Crist today signed Senate Bill 2126, relating to Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program (FTCSP), alongside bill sponsors Senator Joe Negron and Representative Will Weatherford. This legislation increases the scholarship amount per student and raises the fiscal and academic accountability and transparency of the program. Florida’s Corporate Tax Credit Scholarship fund empowers low-income Florida families to choose the educational environment that best suits the needs of their child. Last year, more than 27,000 Florida students benefited from the scholarships in about 1,000 private schools throughout the state.
“The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program offers families an invaluable opportunity to choose a learning environment that gives their children the best chance for success,” said Governor Crist. “I am confident Floride will continue to provide more educational opportunities and options with the partnership of the business community through great programs like this.”
Senate Bill 2126 increases the tax cap credit from $118 million to $140 million in Fiscal Year 2010-11. After Fiscal Year 2010-11, the cap will automatically increase by 25 percent one year after the total tax credits equal or exceed 90 percent of the capped amount. This legislation also shifts the tax scholarship amount per student from a fixed award amount, currently $3,950, to 60 percent of the per-student funding for students attending public school. Thereafter, the scholarship award will increase four percent in any year in which the tax credit cap increases. The scholarship award will be capped at 80 percent of FEFP unweighted student funding.
This bill also revises student eligibility, allowing families whose income increases to a maximum of 230 percent of the federal poverty level to continue to receive the scholarship at a reduced level. Accountability for participating private schools is also enhanced by requiring private schools that receive more than $250,000 in scholarship funds per year to submit a financial report prepared by an independent certified public accountant.
During his remarks, Governor Crist emphasized the importance of school choice and the ability of the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program to increase educational opportunities for Florida students. In the 2008-09 fiscal year, $88.6 million in scholarships were awarded to nearly 25,000 students enrolled in more than 1,000 participating Florida private schools, which was an enrollment increase of more than fifteen percent from the previous school year. According to Florida’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability, the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program is saving Florida taxpayers an estimated $39 million a year.
For more information about the Corporate Tax Credit Scholarship program, visit www.floridaschoolchoice.org/Information/ctc/.