If you waited until this week to apply for a private school scholarship for your child, you waited too long.
The Georgia Department of Revenue has announced that the program hit its $58 million cap for the year on Jan. 1., about three weeks earlier than the money ran out last year.
The General Assembly created the program in 2008 to give Georgia parents who can’t afford private school on their own an alternative other than sending their kids to a public school in a state beset with low test scores and a high dropout rate.
Under the law, individuals who contribute to the scholarships program receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit of up to $1,000, and married couples filing jointly get up to $2,500.
Businesses can receive credits of up to 75 percent of their state income tax liability.
The program has been controversial from the outset. It passed the Republican-controlled General Assembly largely along party lines.
Since then, critics have complained that it steers public money toward private schools, many run by religious institutions. A lawsuit was filed in Fulton County Superior Court last year seeking to have the program overturned as unconstitutional.
But the program’s defenders point to its popularity, as demonstrated by the almost instantaneous depletion of the cap. A poll released last spring by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation showed more than 70 percent of Georgians endorse the program, while 61.8 percent said the annual cap should be raised to $100 million.
Supporters are planning to push for an increase in the cap during the General Assembly session that begins next week.
Staff Writer – Atlanta Business Chronicle