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Governor Youngkin mulls capping scholarship tax credit

Steve Helber
Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin speaks to the media after a transition luncheon in front of the Governor's Mansion at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021.

Governor Glenn Youngkin is considering a budget proposal that some fear might harm scholarships for low-income students.

Hundreds of low-income students might be denied the ability to get a scholarship for a private school education if the governor approves a budget proposal now under consideration. That's according to Chris Braunlich at the Thomas Jefferson Institute, who says putting a cap of $12 million on the Education Improvement Scholarship Tax Credit would cause about $1 million in potential scholarship money to evaporate.

"That's about 300 kids. Would you like to be the one to tell parents your child is leaving the school," Braunlich asks. "I don't, and I think it's not the right thing for a state to do."

But Chris Wodicka at the Commonwealth Institute says this program rarely exceeds $12 million. In fact, he says, it's only exceeded that amount once, when the program funded $12.9 million in tax credits.

"And I think there are many who point to the public K-12 schools that have not always been adequately funded," he explains. "There are still some proposals that didn't even make it into the budget despite the significant investments in K-12."

For example, he says, increased funding for school systems with high poverty, money for support staff and more teachers for students who speak English as a second language. Lawmakers are expected to return to Richmond later this week to consider amendments from the governor. The final budget deadline is at the end of the month.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.