Important Legislation from the Office of Catholic Education (OCE)

There are two key pieces of legislation for which Office of Catholic Education is asking individuals to advocate. One is Pennsylvania Senate Bill 2, which creates Educational Savings Accounts for parents who wish to send children to non-public schools. The other is an amendment to the United States Senate’s Tax Reform Bill. It would allow for the 529 College Savings Plan to be expanded so that parents could also save for K-12 education. A more detailed description of each legislative item along with links to contact your legislators is provided below.

Pennsylvania Senate Bill 2

As it stands, the Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee is currently considering Senate Bill 2 (SB2), which is also known as the Education Savings Account plan. SB2 would help protect the most vulnerable children among us by focusing the savings accounts on the lowest-performing school districts in the Commonwealth. Specifically, SB2 would create state-funded, flexible spending accounts for individual students.

Parents could use the funds to pay for Department of Education-approved educational expenses such as non-public school tuition, higher education tuition, textbooks, curriculum, testing and industry certifications. Unused funds would roll over from one year to the next, and unspent ESA dollars could even be used to pay for college. This is a plan to empower children with educational opportunity, especially those who currently attend the lowest-performing public schools, those is the bottom 15 percentile, in the Commonwealth.

You can contact your elected official to voice support for SB2 at the link below.

Senate Tax Reform Bill, College Savings Plan 529 (United States House-Senate Conference Committee)

The tax reform bills passed separately by the House and Senate will go to conference to reconcile differences between the two before a final law is passed. There are some critical provisions that are of importance to members of Catholic and other private school communities, which are outlined in the bullet points below. Expansion of Section 529 savings accounts to cover elementary and secondary school expenses, as provided in the House version of the bill. Comprehensive 529 accounts would provide parents some practical assistance in saving for the critical years of their children’s education.

Retention of Section 117(d), as provided in the Senate version of the bill. This section allows religious and independent elementary and secondary schools to offer tax-free tuition to the children of teachers and other staff. It helps schools attract high-quality employees to settings that are favorable to parents and children.

Retention of Section 127(a), as provided in the Senate version of the bill. This section allows schools to cover up to $5,250 annually in tax-free educational expenses for employees, another attraction in recruiting qualified staff. It is also vitally important to certain innovative private school communities that have work-study programs in which low-income students receive tax-free compensation.

You can contact your elected officials to voice support for the expansion of the College Savings Plan 529 at the link below.