Could legislation involving school choice tax credits become a hot issue during the General Assembly session? Apparently so. Yesterday, John Taylor, President of Tertium Quids sent out an email regarding his disappointment on Del. Tag Greason’s (R-Loudoun) decision not to sponsor their school choice tax credit legislation. The Tertium Quids legislation was modeled after a study authored by Dr. Adam Schaeffer of the Cato Institute and would provide 100 percent income tax credit for individuals and corporations that spend their own money to help educate a child.
Taylor said in the email:
Now for the bad news. In addition to property rights, Tertium Quids has fought to bring competition and choice to Virginia’s school system. Cato’s Dr. Adam Schaeffer, the author of our policy study on the subject, has drafted a bill that would provide a 100 percent income tax credit for individuals and corporations that spend their own money to help educate a child. His plan is modeled after laws that have been extremely successful and now enjoy broad bipartisan support in both Florida and Pennsylvania.
Delegate Thomas “Tag” Greason (R-32) of Loudoun County contacted us last year about that policy study and our bill. After several frank discussions Del. Greason committed to being our patron in 2011. Unfortunately, with less than three weeks to go before the start of the session, Del. Greason has gone back on his word, allowing some of the more timid members of his party to convince him that this year is not “ideal” for a strong school choice bill. Instead, Del. Greason wants to try yet another “camel’s nose under the tent” approach, the same approach that has utterly failed every year for the past decade.
That’s not political leadership. In fact, Del. Greason and his Republican cohorts seem to have missed the message the grassroots has been sending for the last 18 months. We don’t want any more excuses; we want courageous, principled leaders who are unafraid to get results.
Greason, in an interview, regarding his decision not to support the Tertium Quids legislation
I am actually carrying a Bill (Chief Co-Patron with Del. Jimmie Massie) that pushes VA further on School Choice than we have ever been.
I am a huge proponent of School Choice, and will continue to work hard to make it a reality in Virginia. My goal is to ensure that every child has the ability to benefit from a broad based Universal Tax Credit program, and that every citizen and corporation has the ability to donate their state income tax liability to help pay for the expenses associated with educating a child outside of the Public School System. I will continue to talk about it, learn about it, and convince people of the many benefits that a Tax Credit program can bring to Virginia.
When I began studying this issue….(remember, I am NOT a career politician or a life time legislator, so there is much to learn)….I realized that MANY people had gone before me while working on this issue. Mr. Taylor and I crossed paths somewhere along my journey and we agreed that our goals on Tax Credits were in alignment. Being new to this issue, I accepted what Mr. Taylor had to say, and I gave my WORD that I would study the issue and come back to him to let him know if I would in fact carry the Bill or not. This is the only WORD that I gave to Mr. Taylor…and I kept it.
While Mr. Taylor and I believe in the same end game, we do not necessarily agree on how to get there. And since my approach to solving this problem is not the same as Mr. Taylor’s approach, he has decided to mis-represent our “agreement” and has put into question my “word.” As a graduate of the United States Military Academy, I do not react kindly to someone who questions my integrity and honor…and I certainly do not appreciate it when someone does it dis-honestly, like Mr. Taylor has.
Notwithstanding Mr. Taylor’s attempt to tarnish my reputation, I will continue to fight for what I think is right….in the way I think we can get the best result. I do not pretend to know everything on this or any other subject, but I have done a ton of research and I believe the effort to bring real School Choice to VA will make more progress on this path than on any other.
While I agree with the premise of the legislation proposed by Tertium Quids, I think we need to look at this from a fiscally responsible perspective. If you grant 100 percent tax credit to families, there is the potential that this could cost the state more over time. This could be viewed as another example of an unnecessary government expenditure by many taxpayers, etc. A more appropriate tax credit is being proposed in the legislation co-patroned by both Greason and Massie.
School choice is needed now more than ever, since educational standards in public education continue to decline. Parents should have the opportunity to choose the best education for their children, regardless if it is public or private. There has been successful legislation introduced in both Florida and Pennsylvania regarding tax credits for school choice. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush pointed this out in his Wall Street Journal editorial yesterday, when he said, “Choice is the catalytic converter here, accelerating the benefits of other educational reforms.” Florida’s public schools improved academically due to school choice reforms.
With the success of school choice reforms in Florida and Pennsylvania, the question remains: Will Virginia embrace tax credits for school choice?