Governor Kevin Stitt today commended the House and Senate for passing Senate Bill 1080, which will increase funding potential for the Equal Opportunity Scholarship program to provide low and middle income households with more education options. The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk.
“I am thrilled that the Legislature is putting students first by helping expand the Equal Opportunity Scholarship program,” said Governor Stitt. “I will always fight for parents to be able to choose a school that best fits their child’s needs, regardless of zip code or income level, and I look forward to signing SB 1080 into law.”
Specifically SB 1080, which is supported by the Oklahoma State School Board Association, increases the amount of tax credits available for the Equal Opportunity Scholarship Act, a program that helps both public and private schools. Currently the program is being stifled by an arbitrary $5 million cap on tax-credit payouts, discouraging growth and future donations. SB 1080 raises the cap tenfold, from $5 million to $50 million, with $25 million for public schools and $25 million for private schools.
The bill further allows public schools with fewer than 4,500 students to apply for funds “innovative educational programs.” For example, Chickasha used Opportunity Scholarship dollars to fund its robotics and STEM programs. Over 2,500 students benefit from Opportunity Scholarships each year. Two-thirds of the recipients are from low-income families.
“This is a great day for all Oklahoma students and families,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat (R-Oklahoma City). “The Equal Opportunity Scholarship program lifts children out of poverty and sparks generational change by allowing deserving kids a chance at a high-quality education they couldn’t otherwise afford. Our improvements to the program also give public schools an additional $25 million for educational innovation programs. This is an all-around victory for education and for Oklahoma and I look forward to the bill soon becoming law.”
“Today’s passage of HB 1080, along with major education reforms already passed this session, shows our Legislature and Governor are dedicated to making Oklahoma a Top 10 state for education,” said Secretary of Education Ryan Walters. “This bill will benefit Oklahoma students, families and public schools across the state by ensuring there is a pathway for students to attend the school best for them and providing accessible and equitable learning opportunities for every student based on their unique needs.”
“This bill received overwhelming public support and increases opportunities for Oklahoma children,” said House Speaker Charles McCall (R-Atoka). “The program is entirely privately funded and encourages those who can to give back to schools and support children with financial hardships or special needs. Passage of this bill invests in our kids and the future of Oklahoma.”
“This policy cares about all kids in all parts of Oklahoma. It’s a huge win for kids, for Oklahoma and for our shared future,” said House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols (R-Oklahoma City). “Options for parents, opportunities for children and support for all public schools are things everyone should get behind, and I am proud the House did exactly that with this bill."