Wednesday, June 1, 2011

ALEC backs Taxpayer Savings Grants

The following ALEC Issue Alert, dated May 25, 2011, was sent to ALEC members in Texas. It was written by David J. Myslinski, director of ALEC's Education Task Force (of which I am a member).
Providing a quality education to every student represents an ongoing challenge each state faces, especially in times of tight budgets. The very nature of the task requires a flexible and tailored approach, one that accounts for the uniqueness of every child despite the various categories under which they may fall.

Texas has before it the opportunity to provide its students with quality education options while saving taxpayers money. The Taxpayers' Savings Grant Program is currently being considered as an amendment to an upcoming appropriations bill.

ALEC strongly supports programs that provide students a variety of choices which allow them access to schools that best suit their needs. ALEC also supports efforts that lessen the burden on taxpayers, especially in times of economic instability.

The Taxpayers' Savings Grant Program (TSGP) allows parents to move their children from public schools to private schools, using a savings grant of up to $5,143 to pay for tuition. By limiting the grant to a maximum of $5,143—60 percent of Texas’ per-pupil expenditure, or the cost of tuition, whichever is less—Texas will save, at a minimum, roughly $3,429 for each student who opts into this program, which will be put back into Texas' education fund.

Research by The Heartland Institute shows approximately 350,000 students would be enrolled in private schools under the program, creating a net savings of more than $2 billion over the next two years.

Parents would be given the option to transfer their child from a public school to a private school and use a Taxpayers' Savings Grant to help pay the tuition. All parents with children currently enrolled in a Texas public school are eligible to participate, including students enrolling in kindergarten and first grade for the first time.
With students leaving public schools while a portion of their funding remains, public schools stand to gain. In fact, Texas public schools retain all of their local funding (on average, around $3,000 per student) and receive another $3,429 with every student who chooses to participate in the Savings Grant Program. At the end of the day, the program bumps current per pupil spending up by an astounding $473, and lifts Texas by as many as 8 spots in the national rankings.

The Texas Taxpayers' Savings Grant Program is in line with the principles of ALEC's Education Task Force, which supports effective programs such as the TSGP. It empowers parents with choice, it helps to raise achievement and create accountability in public schools, and it does all of this while saving the state over $2 billion and putting a major dent in a problem budget deficit.

For these reasons, ALEC strongly supports the Taxpayers' Savings Grant Program as it aligns with ALEC's existing policies.

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