Thousands of law-abiding North Carolinians choose to educate their children at home or in private schools. In addition to paying state and local taxes for an education system their children do not use, parents must also pay the costs of tuition, books and the other costs associated with non-public education. It’s not difficult to see how those who choose not to attend public schools face significant economic burdens in educating their children.
HB 335 introduced by Rep. Skip Stam (R-Wake) is an attempt to correct this problem. The legislation provides qualified parents a tax credit of up to $1,250 a semester toward the costs of educationing children in a non-public school. The bill, introduced last March, would provide not only much-needed tax relief but also generate significant savings to the state and local LEAs. According to the bill’s fiscal estimate, in the first year of full operation, the bill would save the state between $13.4 million and $35.6 milllion and save LEAs between $9.3 million and $25.3 million. The savings are a result of reduced public school enrollment –,hence reduced costs — and the lower costs of educating students in non-public schools.
Considering the current budget difficulties, the savings are nothing to scoff at. The midpoint of projected state savings is $24,319,198. That’s equivalent to hiring about 442 new public school teachers with salary and benefits. Despite enjoying popular support among North Carolinians –in 2008, 64 percent of NC voters said they would support a system of education tax credits in North Carolina (June 2008, Civitas DecisionMaker Poll) — HB 335 hasn’t budged from the House Education committee.
Instead of listening to the education lobbyists, it’s time law makers listen to voters, save money and end the unfair tax treatment.