May 17 2010

BOASTing Rights in Maryland

Vicki E. Alger

A new study from the Foundation for Educational Choice finds that the proposed

Building Opportunities for all Students and Teachers (BOAST) tax-credit program would expand education options for Maryland families, help promote innovative public-school programs, and generate fiscal savings. The BOAST program would allow businesses to take tax credits for donations made to organizations that provide private-school scholarships. Businesses could also claim tax credits for contributions to organizations that support innovative public-school programs in Maryland. Under BOAST, tax credits would be worth 75 percent of businesses' donations, with total donations capped at a set annual amount. Among the study's key findings:

•  If two-thirds of the scholarships awarded go to public-school students and their average value is between $1,500 and $2,500, BOAST will generate state savings of more than $133 million over 10 years.

•  If 80 percent of scholarships are awarded to public-school students, then net state savings could be as high as $267 million over 10 years, depending on the average value of scholarships.

•· If all scholarships are awarded to public school students, then savings can be as high as $472 million over 10 years.

•   In no scenario does the BOAST plan hurt local school districts fiscally.

As with all other tax-credit scholarship programs in existence today (including those in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island), only a portion of Maryland public schools' state education aid is reduced when a student receives a scholarship and leaves a local district. The majority of funding remains with the school district and is dispersed among a smaller student population, increasing a schools' per-pupil funding. And, once students transfer their previous schools no longer bear the cost of educating them. At a time when most states are facing budget shortfalls, programs like Maryland's BOAST plan would be a win-win for students, schools, and taxpayers.

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