Last Thursday (4/22/10), Florida Governor Charlie Crist signed into law a huge expansion of the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program!
Two newspaper articles in the GovMonitor and Jacksonville Observer explain different aspects of the program expansion. The Jacksonville Observer incorrectly calls it a voucher program. It is a tuition tax-credit program.
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.
The measure also provides additional tax credits for the program, adding oil and gas severance taxes, beverage taxes on alcohol and other types of business taxes.
Rep. Bill Heller, D-St. Petersburg, who was initially against the program, flipped his position over the years after learning that 78 students in his district received the scholarship and talking to them about their choice. “If it helps whatever that little guy or gal is, that’s the bottom line for me,” Heller said.