Georgia’s tax subsidy to private schools nears $70 million

“It is a gift horse, and we try not to look them in the face.’’  —Paideia headmaster Paul Bianchi

In the two years it’s been up and running, Georgia’s Tax Credit Scholarship Program has collected more than $30 million for private school scholarships, with that amount expected to more than double in 2010.

Under the program, invidia donors can claim a dollar-for-dollar reduction in state taxes, up to $2,500 for a married couple, and corporations can give up to 75 percent of their tax liability. This comes on top of the federal tax deduction for charitable contributions.

The Republican backed program was approved in the legislature by a party-line vote, and the two major gubernatorial candidates take opposing views. Democrat Roy Barnes has said he’d work to repeal the program if elected, while Republican Nathan Deal supports it.

The Atlanta Journal-Construction has more details. To see program policies, check out the Georgia Department of Education webpage.

Question: If backers of “school choice” believe that public schools should be forced to compete, why would they support a subsidy for private schools?

Posted by editor

Georgia Colleges is published and edited by Jonathan Grant, an Atlanta-based author whose works include the award-winning The Way It Was in the South: The Black Experience in Georgia (University of Georgia Press). He is currently developing a guidebook to Georgia colleges for parents, students, and educators.

Grant graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in English. He is a former newspaper reporter, editor, and bureau chief with The Macon Telegraph and served as a Georgia state government spokesman for several years.

He lives in suburban Atlanta with his wife, Judy, and two children–a college freshman and a high school senior. Actively involved in community affairs, he has served as a PTA president, a local school council member, and as a soccer coach for twelve seasons.