Gov. Tom Wolf

Gov. Tom Wolf

HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed a bill Tuesday that would have dramatically expanded the amount of tax credits available to donors who give to scholarships for students to attend private schools.

House Bill 800, authored by House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny County, would have doubled the amount of tax credits available for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit while also raising the income limits for families to be eligible for scholarships covered by the program.

Under the plan, the state would have offered up to $210 million in tax credits and allowed families earning $95,000 to benefit from the scholarships funded by those donations.

The measure passed the state Senate last week, after passing in the state House last month.

The legislation didn’t pass with enough support in either chamber to suggest there are enough votes to override Wolf’s veto.

In his veto message, Wolf said that the tax credits for private schools lacks accountability and oversight.

“This legislation prompts a serious question: why would the Commonwealth allow for the expansion of the Education Investment Tax Credit (EITC) that supports private institutions while our current public-school system remains underfunded?” Wolf said in the veto message. “We have public schools that are structurally deteriorating, contaminated by lead, and staffed by teachers who are not appropriately paid and overstretched in their responsibilities. Tackling these challenges, and others, should be our collective priority.”

Eric Failing, executive director of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, the lobbying arm for the church, said the group will continue working to get similar expansions of the program passed, despite Wolf’s move.

“We are disappointed with the governor’s decision to veto a long overdue expansion of Pennsylvania’s important EITC program, given that so many families are on a waiting list to receive help,” Failing said. “EITC provides parents with the opportunity to choose schools they believe are best for their families.”

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