President Trump Touts Cruz-School Choice and Workforce Development Bill in State of the Union Address
WASHINGTON, D.C. - During his State of the Union Address, President Trump highlighted U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-Texas) Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act, legislation to help workers and families access the education and skills they need to thrive in a 21st century economy. Specifically, the legislation provides a federal tax credit for donations to state-run educational scholarships, and expand elementary and secondary education, as well as access to apprenticeships and postsecondary workforce education for students and families across the country.
In the Senate, Sen. Cruz has fought for years to expand educational opportunities for Americans of all walks of life, including expanding 529 accounts to cover tuition at elementary and secondary schools. Praising President Trump's pledge to advance scholarships for K-12 and vocational education, Sen. Cruz said:
"Every student, regardless of income or zip code, should have access to quality education. We know education is the gateway to the American dream and family-sustaining employment. That's why I'm proud to have introduced the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act, which provides a federal tax credit to encourage individuals and businesses to donate to nonprofit scholarship funds, generating new opportunities for students of all ages. Specifically, my bill seeks to empower men and women with the technical training and apprenticeships needed to enter the skilled labor force. Across the country, we are seeing momentum build for tax credit scholarship programs - 18 states already have similar programs in place. This investment ensures our children and the next generation of skilled American workers are well-equipped to participate in our growing economy. I look forward to continuing to work with President Trump and Secretary DeVos to pass this measure at the federal level to ensure parents in all states have the same choice for their children."
The bill is cosponsored by Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Pat Toomey (R-Penn.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), and Rick Scott (R-Fla.).
In December, Sen. Cruz participated in a roundtable discussion at the White House with President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to discuss how to best empower American families with educational freedom and opportunities. Later in the month, he participated in a discussion hosted by the Council on Competitiveness with Secretary DeVos and Dr. Michael Crow, the president of Arizona State University to talk about the provisions of the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act.
Last week, during National School Choice Week, Sen. Cruz released a video highlighting the importance of expanding school choice and opportunities for every American child.
Key provisions of the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act include:
• Optional for States: State participation is optional - an issue important to prevent extending federal control over education.
• State Directed: States maintain the authority to create a program that works for them. States can decide which students are eligible for the scholarship credit, what constitutes eligible educational expenses and eligible educational providers, and more.
• Encourages Workplace Training Education: There is more than one pathway to success, and our rapidly-changing 21st century economy means that workers need new skills to compete. In addition to elementary and secondary education scholarships, this bill allows for scholarships related to career and technical education, apprenticeships, certifications, and other forms of workforce training for postsecondary students.
• Prohibits Federal Control of Education: Clarifies that nothing in this act shall be construed to permit, allow, encourage, or authorize any increased regulation or control over any aspect of a participating educational provider, scholarship granting organization, or workforce training organization. This allows all education providers to be able to participate, without fear of federal control.
• Helps Our Most Vulnerable Students: Many low- and middle-income students cannot afford tuition and educational expenses themselves, or do not have the means to pay for the workforce training needed to secure a stable, high-paying job. This tax credit will provide scholarships for these students, so that they can have the opportunity to receive an effective and successful education that prepares them for the future.