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Education

Jonathan Small | June 9, 2023

Stitt, lawmakers deserve families’ thanks

Jonathan Small

For years, Oklahoma has ranked among the worst states in measurements of important education metrics, particularly outcomes.

But with Gov. Kevin Stitt’s signing of House Bill 1934 last month, Oklahoma moved into the top 10 nationally in school-choice opportunity. Oklahoma children will benefit from this accomplishment for years to come, and by extension so will the entire state.

The Oklahoma Parental Choice Tax Credit Act provides refundable tax credits of $5,000 to $7,500 per child to cover the cost of private school tuition with the size of the credit tied to income. The largest tax credit ($7,500) goes to families with adjusted gross income of less than $75,000 with the credit then gradually reduced as income increases.

Families who homeschool also qualify for a tax credit of $1,000 per child.

The credit will cover much, and in many cases all, of the cost of tuition at most private schools in Oklahoma. This truly opens the door of opportunity to families at all income levels, all across the state.

Accomplishments of this magnitude are the result of leadership, and Oklahoma has been blessed to have many crucial policymakers working on this issue for years.

Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat has long fought for school choice, including filing a major Education Savings Account (ESA) measure in 2022. State Sen. Julie Daniels has also been a champion, and both she and state Sen. Shane Jett filed major ESA bills this year. Newly elected state senators, such as Kristen Thompson and Ally Seifried, have also been strong advocates for families and educational opportunity for all. State Sens. Dave Rader, Adam Pugh, and Rob Standridge have led on the issue as well.

The governor has championed school choice for several years and ran as a strong supporter of it in his re-election campaign. The same thing holds true for State Superintendent Ryan Walters. Stitt and Walters’ election victories last November provided the voter mandate for school choice.

State Reps. Chad Caldwell, Toni Hasenbeck, Mark Lepak, and others have also carried the torch for families and education opportunity for years.

Lt. Gov Matt Pinnell has championed expanding options for parents.

And, of course, all members of the Legislature who voted for universal school choice deserve families’ thanks.

HB 1934 makes it financially viable for most families to choose private school, which also makes it more likely a greater share of children will find the environment that best suits them. That in turn will improve educational outcomes across Oklahoma.

Our state has ranked poorly on outcomes for years, but it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s time to give credit where it’s due. Lawmakers have not only acted to change poor education-outcome trends, but also acted to improve the trajectory of many children’s lives.

Jonathan Small President

Jonathan Small

President

Jonathan Small, C.P.A., serves as President and joined the staff in December of 2010. Previously, Jonathan served as a budget analyst for the Oklahoma Office of State Finance, as a fiscal policy analyst and research analyst for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and as director of government affairs for the Oklahoma Insurance Department. Small’s work includes co-authoring “Economics 101” with Dr. Arthur Laffer and Dr. Wayne Winegarden, and his policy expertise has been referenced by The Oklahoman, the Tulsa World, National Review, the L.A. Times, The Hill, the Wall Street Journal and the Huffington Post. His weekly column “Free Market Friday” is published by the Journal Record and syndicated in 27 markets. A recipient of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s prestigious Private Sector Member of the Year award, Small is nationally recognized for his work to promote free markets, limited government and innovative public policy reforms. Jonathan holds a B.A. in Accounting from the University of Central Oklahoma and is a Certified Public Accountant.

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