January 20, 2017
On January 18, the Florida Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal challenging Florida’s Tax Credit (FTC) Scholarship Program, effectively ending an ongoing lawsuit attempting to declare the program unconstitutional. The Court, in a 4-1 decision, upheld an August 2016 decision by the First District Court of Appeal that ruled the plaintiffs in
McCall v. Scott did not have legal standing to challenge the FTC scholarships.
The lawsuit has been winding its way through the court system since it was originally filed in August 2014. On May 18, 2015, Leon County Circuit Judge George Reynolds ruled that plaintiffs in
McCall v. Scott lacked taxpayer standing in the case and did not allege special injury sufficient to confer standing. The Florida Education Association (FEA), a major plaintiff, filed an appeal to that ruling in June 2015. After the First District Court of Appeal validated Judge Reynolds’ decision, the FEA and other plaintiffs appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.
Since enacted by the Florida Legislature in 2001, the FTC Scholarship Program has been providing hope and opportunity to thousands of students from low-income households. Many of Florida’s Catholic schools participate in the program, allowing Catholic schools to respond to a call to make the high-quality educational experience they offer available to those with lower incomes. During the 2016-2017 school year, 16,430 students, 19 percent of Florida’s total Catholic school enrollment, are FTC scholarship recipients.
The FCCB has maintained a long-standing commitment to parental empowerment in education and has consistently supported the Florida Tax Credit (FTC) Scholarship Program as good for Florida students and families. This positive outcome in the courts will allow FTC scholarships to continue to strengthen Florida’s education system and complement the range of learning opportunities for Florida students.