Starting in 2010, Louisiana parents will be allowed to deduct certain education expenses (including private school tuition) from their state income tax bill, thanks to a new law passed by the state legislature. Gov. Bobby Jindal is expected to sign the measure. When he does, Louisiana will become the 14th state to provide public support for private school choice. (For an overview of school choice programs across the nation, see this recent Heritage report.)
Louisiana’s new tax deduction will provide some tax relief for Louisiana private school families, who are essentially paying twice for education—once, by paying taxes to support public schools and, again, by paying their own child’s tuition costs. For some families, the tax deduction could provide as much as $300 in annual savings.
That’s an important step toward empowering parents, but more should be done: the modest tax break won’t help disadvantaged families to choose a better school for their children. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, 48 percent of Louisiana 4th graders are performing “below basic” in reading. Many more students would benefit from the opportunity to attend a school of their parents’ choice. Lawmakers should help more families in Louisiana exercise school choice by creating a tuition scholarship program to compliment the new education tax deduction.