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Obstacles delay start of Oklahoma's parent choice tax credit

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Kim Jarrett

(The Center Square) - The Oklahoma Tax Commission cited "obstacles" behind the delay of the application period for the state's parental choice tax credit to December 6.

The plan approved by lawmakers earlier this year would give parents between $5,000 to $7,500 toward private school tuition and fees. The state has $150 million in credits for 2024.

The Tax Commission said the plan was to begin the application period on Friday, its targeted date. But the unnamed obstacles would prevent a "seamless rollout," according to a news release.

"Due to the popularity of the program, it is imperative that everyone be given the opportunity to have the best possible experience on the day the Taxpayer application opens," the commission said in a statement. "Although the majority of parents have received their Enrollment Verification Forms, and are ready to apply, we do have parents who have not received their form as of close of business Thursday, November 30. We continue to work diligently to resolve all unanticipated complications and will continue to do so."

Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat said he was disappointed with the delay.

“While I am agitated that the enrollment has been delayed, it is important to get it right to ensure fairness for all Oklahoma children looking to get the best education possible,” Treat said. “While everyone knew undertaking a project of this size and magnitude would have different challenges, the Tax Commission must do whatever they can to provide parents and their children the best path forward.”

House Democrats said they were concerned about the tax commission's ability to implement the program.

"The Legislature allocated $1M for implementation, which has now cost taxpayers $4M along with a delay in implementation — we predicted all of this," said House Democratic Leader Cyndi Munson, D-Oklahoma City. "We should not be spending our time and money on funding private schools. We are responsible for ensuring every child in Oklahoma has access to a high quality public education. My hope is that my colleagues who supported spending public dollars on private schools now see it isn’t the best use of our resources."