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Missouri may expand private and home-school scholarships

The Missouri Legislature may have good news for parents who home-school their children or send them to private schools. Several proposals under consideration could expand a scholarship program that pays more than $6,000 toward education expenses

On Monday, the House Special Committee on Education Reform heard four measures that would expand the state’s private school voucher program, MOScholars. The program is administered by the state treasurer’s office and funded by private contributions. Contributors receive a tax credit equal to their contribution amount. Lawmakers in both the House and Senate want to increase the amount of money available for scholarships, loosen income requirements, remove all geographic restrictions and increase the scholarship amount for some students.

Rep. Phil Christofanelli, R-St. Peters, sponsored the original proposal that became law in 2021 and led to the creation of MOScholars, which launched for the 2022-23 school year. “I think where we want to go is where many other states have gone in providing a universal school choice option for every Missouri student that wants to avail themselves to one,” he told the “St. Louis Post-Dispatch.”

Christofanelli and Rep. Doug Richey, R-Excelsior Springs, who both are running for state Senate seats this year, are sponsoring identical measures that would dramatically expand the availability of scholarships. “Both the east and west side of the state have similar interest in this,” Richey said.

Under the measures, the state could give out up to $75 million in tax credits for MOScholars contributions, up from the current cap of $50 million. Tax credits also would be refundable. Students across the state would be able to apply for scholarships, and families from higher income brackets could apply.

The House committee on Monday also heard two simpler proposals: one that would lift the program’s geographic restrictions and another that would remove a requirement to attend public school for one semester before applying for a scholarship.

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice

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