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Press Release: New MBP Analysis Shows Tax Credit School Vouchers Would Increase Costs for Local Taxpayers

For Immediate Release: April 3, 2024
Contact: Traci Gleason,

A new analysis from the Missouri Budget Project shows that the expansion of school vouchers like those through the Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts would require school districts to increase the amount of local funds for public schools, potentially requiring local tax increases.

The expansion of school vouchers and their associated tax credits would divert state funding from neighborhood public schools. However, many public school costs, like buildings and utilities, are
fixed costs that do not automatically decrease if a school loses students. If state funding for those schools decreases, local funding must then increase to cover those costs.

“A neighborhood elementary school still has to be maintained, it still has to be heated in the winter and cooled when it’s hot,” said Amy Blouin, President and CEO of Missouri Budget Project. “Those expenses still have to be paid – the difference is that local funds would have to be used for a larger portion of the costs.”

To illustrate the revenue loss that could result from tax credit vouchers, the Missouri Budget Project projected the state revenue loss and local revenue increases that would be needed fund such fixed costs in a sample of school districts in counties across Missouri.

“The financial loss to neighborhood schools and local school districts could be considerable, depending on several factors,” continued Blouin. “Depending on the number of students who use vouchers, some districts may have to take on a large amount of fixed costs using local tax dollars. That means local taxpayers could see tax increases to pay for schools if districts lose the state contribution towards those fixed expenses.”

Blouin emphasized that this would only worsen existing trends in Missouri, which already relies more heavily on local funding than any other state. According to the most recently available public data, Missouri ranks 50th in state revenue pre student based on average daily attendance and 50th in state revenue as a portion of total revenue for education.

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For more information: Tax Credit School Vouchers Would Increase Costs for Local Taxpayers

The Missouri Budget Project is a nonprofit public policy analysis organization that analyzes state budget, tax, and economic issues.

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