House Votes to Send Public Money to Private Schools

Today, the Mississippi House of Representatives voted to send millions more in state tax dollars to private schools. The funding flows by way of dollar-for-dollar tax credits for donations to private schools.* This is the mechanism for funneling state funding to private schools that is preferred by Mississippi’s private school association, which fears that accountability might accompany direct voucher payments. See the association’s flyer here.

The tax credit program is promoted as one that benefits organizations that serve children in foster care, however HB 1988 increases the 2024 tax credits for private schools by $6-million but provides no corresponding increase for organizations that serve children in foster care, directing nearly two-thirds of the current year’s Children’s Promise Act tax credits to private schools. See the list of private schools that have benefited. The bill increases private school tax credits for years 2025 and beyond by $15-million annually. 

Rep. Robert Johnson proposed a number of amendments that would have directed more money to organizations that serve children in foster care and less to private schools, but those amendments were defeated. See the vote on amendment 4, which would have sent 60% of the tax credits to organizations that serve children in foster care. The bill passed as presented but was held on a motion to reconsider. That means the bill sending more money to private schools will die if the motion to reconsider is not tabled.

Please ask your representative to vote NO on tabling the motion to reconsider HB 1988.

Find contact information for representatives in your school district here.

Capitol Switchboard: 601.359.3770

Speaker White: 601.359.3300

Here’s how the Children’s Promise Act private school tax credits work: Let’s say John owes the State of Mississippi $5,000 in taxes. If John writes a $2,500 check to his child’s private school, the state reduces his tax bill by that amount, and John pays only $2,500 to the state. The effect on the state budget – and on the state funding available for public schools – is exactly the same as if the state had made John pay all of his taxes but sent $2,500 in vouchers to the private school. Tax credits are the same as vouchers.

*Private schools need not enroll children in foster care to qualify for the maximum total tax credits. The law is crafted to allow virtually any private school to qualify, requiring only that a school admit one child who meets one of these criteria (no minimum number of qualifying students is required): is a child in a foster care placement program, has a chronic illness or disability (asthma, diabetes, allergy, ADHD, etc.), or is economically disadvantaged. The law also does not require that the school provide any special services to students.

Public money belongs in public schools.

Please ask your representative to defeat HB 1988 by voting NO on tabling the motion to reconsider.

Our children and teachers are counting on us, and together, we’ve got this! 

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