Major Jewish advocacy groups this week applauded the state Legislature and Gov. Ed Rendell for maintaining the funding level for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit EITC) in this year’s state budget at its current $60 million.
Since its inception in 2001, the EITC program has distributed roughly $300 million in scholarships to private school students, in addition to funds and resources it provided for public school students, through corporate donations to non-profit scholarship organizations.
Due to budgetary constraints, the program was reduced from $75 million to $60 million in last year’s budget, with a stipulation that it be reduced by an additional $10 million for fiscal year 2010-2011. Thanks to statewide advocacy efforts by groups such as Agudath Israel and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations (OU), the EITC program avoided this devastating cut in appropriations and will maintain level funding with the 2009-10 fiscal year.
“Pennsylvania legislators and Governor Rendell stepped up to the plate this year. Another $10 million cut to EITC would have been crippling to schools and families in need,” said Howie Beigelman, OU dep. director of public policy.
Rabbi Ariel Sadwin, director of Agudath Israel’s Mid-Atlantic Region, commented, “Knowing full well the level of dependence our yeshivos and day schools in Pennsylvania have for the EITC program, we are very pleased with the heartwarming measure handed down by the Pennsylvania legislature to preserve the program’s $60 million allocation.”