Thursday, March 2, 2017

Wealthy Louisiana Taxpayers May Actually Make a Profit by Funding Private Schools

Are you worried that the new Education Secretary Betsy DeVos may divert public school taxes to private schools that are not accountable to the taxpayers? You should be, because that's been the sum total of her involvement with education before being appointed to the top federal job in education. But Louisiana has already found a way to divert public tax dollars to private schools, and such contributors can actually make a profit doing so.

This well researched article in The Advocate by Will Sentell shows how wealthy taxpayers can actually make a profit by supporting private schools. And the rest of our Louisiana taxpayers get stuck with the bill! The rapidly growing tuition donation rebate program (A law passed during the Jindal administration) is really a school voucher program on steroids. That's because for every dollar a doner gives to the program, he can save 95 cents off his state taxes. Then he can claim a full federal tax credit on the entire donation. So if he/she is in any federal tax bracket over 5%, he/she actually makes a profit on the deal! This is a shocking misuse of our state and federal tax dollars! But we shouldn't be surprised since Louisiana has been the leader in the entire country in ripping off public schools to support private schools which are actually underperforming compared to public schools. The latest analysis of our voucher program shows that student test scores on average drop when they transfer to a voucher school.

But to make the ripoff even more offensive, the rebate program has no accountability. There is no provision in the rebate law to stop funding unsuccessful rebate programs. So even if all the rebate students in a particular private school fail all their state tests, there is no way to stop the payments to that school. This is just one more shameful piece of the Jindal legacy.