Alabama Accountability Act expansion signed into law, increasing tax credits for more families

WAFF's Megan Plotka reporting
Published: Jun. 12, 2023 at 9:05 AM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Alabama Governor Kay Ivey recently signed a law that aims to provide more financial assistance to families for their children’s education.

The law is an expansion of the Alabama Accountability Act which sparked controversy. While it allows eligible families to receive increased scholarships, they have to move their children out of struggling schools.

The legislation, which has been in place for over a decade, has raised the income threshold for families to qualify for scholarships and increased the scholarship amount to $10,000 per student per year.

“What we’ve done this year, is expand the Accountability Act that’s been in place for ten years to try to provide scholarships or more opportunities for students that are in priority schools to receive scholarships,” said State Sen. Donnie Chesteen, who sponsored the bill.

These scholarships are specifically designated for students attending priority schools, previously referred to as failing schools. Under the new law, families have the option to transfer their children to participating private schools or enroll them in qualifying public schools. The expansion of eligibility for scholarships was met with divided opinions among lawmakers.

Democrats say school choice bills like this moves funding out of public schools, having a negative impact on the school system overall. But Republicans say it allows students to find better opportunities.

The law sets an income threshold for scholarship eligibility based on household size, with the maximum income limit being 250% of the federal poverty level. For instance, a household of three people would earn less than approximately $54,000 per year. The scholarship amount varies depending on the size of the household.

WAFF's Megan Plotka reporting

This law is one of two school choice bills that were discussed during this legislative session. The Alabama Accountability Act was passed while the PRICE Act stalled in a House committee.

“There was a lot of uncertainty as to exactly what the cost of the PRICE Act would be,” said State Sen. Chesteen. “I think there were some amendments and changes that was put forth with the PRICE Act. This was the vehicle that moved forward this year and this session.”

Additionally, the funds provided by these scholarships can also be utilized for hiring tutors.

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