Proposed $15M tax credit targets career and technical programs | News, Sports, Jobs

A new tax credit could send millions to Pennsylvania career and technical education to cover program costs if approved by the General Assembly.

The proposal, House Bill 52, would establish the Career and Technical Education Investment Incentive Program, a $15 million fiscal year available to businesses that donate to CTE scholarships or purchase equipment for these programs.

The majority of the tax credits, 90%, would be reserved to cover program costs and services, and 10% would be used to expand enrollment.

“Nearly 200,000 Unskilled Jobs in PA,” said Rep. Clint Owlett, R-Wellsboro, in a legislative statement. “This bill will make business investment with our career and technical education students and post-secondary institutions to fill those positions and grow our commonwealth’s economy.”

To grow PA’s economy, it is essential to connect our education system with the needs of job creators, he said, especially when it comes to trade skills.

Owlett told The Center Square on Tuesday that the state has a lot to offer “solid” CTE programs, but appear disconnected from the labor market.

“We have to bring employers with jobs and schools with programs, and students! – together to better coordinate and prepare students for available family-supporting occupations,” he said “As a father, I want my children to have the opportunity to stay here. But it goes further.”

He pointed to Pennsylvania’s growing share of seniors, as well as a stagnant population that has cost it a congressional seat.

“If we want to continue helping our seniors, we need to change our demographics” he said “We need to keep more of our young people here, we need to keep more of our business people here and we need to bring in some new business people and attract new people to Pennsylvania.”

The bill’s structure is similar to the Education Improvement Tax Credit, which provides tax credits to help low- and moderate-income students attend private schools in exchange for donations. Some funds also help “innovator” public school programs.

Tax credits for donating companies are limited to 75% of the contribution up to $750,000, but this credit can increase to 90% if a company commits to giving the same amount for two years.

An annual report summarizing the impact of the tax credit program would then be required every December.

An earlier version of the bill got second thoughts in the House’s last session before stalling.

Vocational and technical education has received bipartisan support in various forms. Gov. Josh Shapiro talked about boosting CTE funding in his budget address, The Center Square previously reported.

“Fewer students have the opportunity to work in the trades, and fewer know that this path even exists.” Shapiro said. “My Administration has a comprehensive plan to invest in apprenticeship programs, expand vo-tech and bring career and technical education back into our classrooms. We can connect the dots between our schools, unions, our businesses and the public sector.”

In his budget, Shapiro proposed a $14 million boost to CTE spending, a 13 percent increase over the previous year.

However, advocates say more is needed. A report last week pushed the Shapiro administration to increase CTE funding by $230 million to bring Pennsylvania’s CTE numbers on par with neighboring states.

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