Governor Signs School Choice Legislation Into Law
On Wednesday, July 14, Governor Parson signed House Bill 349 into law. House Bill 349 creates Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) to help parents afford the best educational opportunities for their children. There are countless students throughout our state whose educational needs are not being met, and their parents do not have the financial resources needed to enroll them in a school that allows them to reach their true potential.
House Bill 349 also creates Education Assistance Organizations (EAOs), which will be responsible for distributing the scholarships to parents and students. Individuals who donate to the EAO will fund these scholarships, and they may receive a tax credit for up to half of their overall tax liability. The program will be capped at $50 million per year. House Bill 349 includes accountability measures for EAOs and penalty provisions for the misuse of scholarship funds.
These scholarships can be used for a variety of purposes in addition to tuition. The funds may be used to pay tutoring, textbooks, virtual education, after school programs, educational therapies and curriculum. The EAOs will prioritize these scholarships for students with an approved individual education plan (IEP) and students from a household that meets the income standard to receive free and reduced school lunches. The scholarships are limited to students who live in cities with a population of 30,000 or more.
After an unprecedented and uncertain year, I am proud to give Missouri students a win. Parents and students need more freedom to choose the best education for them, regardless of their ability to pay tuition rates.