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Article of Interest - Michigan News

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Bridges4Kids LogoHouse Panel Ponders Classroom Purchase Tax Exemptions
MIRS, January 21, 2004

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Today, the House Tax Policy Committee took testimony on a pair of bills (HB 4261 and HB 4525) that would create tax breaks for teachers and school administrators who spend their own money to purchase supplies for their classroom.

The idea has appeared in the form of legislation during previous sessions but has never been enacted. The impression emerging from today's hearing was that the legislation is a work in progress.

HB 4261, sponsored by Rep. Paul CONDINO (D-Southfield), gives teachers a tax credit of up to $350 for books, video tapes, computer programs, art supplies and other classroom material purchased out-of-pocket.

HB 4525, sponsored by Rep. Matthew MILOSCH (R-Lambertville), would provide teachers, full-time administrators, and other full-time personnel employed by a public school or charter school with a refundable credit equal to the costs paid during the tax year for classroom supplies used for educational purposes and directly related to classroom coursework.

The term "classroom supplies" would apply to books, computer programs, art supplies, classroom decorations, supplies and equipment for experiments, prizes, and similar materials.

"Every day, public school teachers are making purchases for their classrooms," Milosch told the committee today. "I think it's just unfortunate that, due to the deficit, we can't give them a credit on every single dollar they spend."

Rep. Jack MINORE (D-Flint) questioned the timing of the legislation.

"I'm a former teacher," Minore said. "Most of the classes I taught were for children, which was actually good preparation for this job. I certainly sympathize with what this legislation is supposed to do. However, my one concern is that when we provide $1 million in credits here, we end up having to cut $1 million some place else. So my concern is with the effective date of this."

Condino responded that he and Milosch had considered that when drafting the bills and a possible effective date would be 2005.

Paul LONG of the Michigan Catholic Conference testified in opposition to the bills on the basis that the exemptions would apply only to public school teachers.

"We believe this ought to be for any certified teacher," Long said.

Rep. Paula ZELENKO (D-Burton) asked if an exemption that includes parochial teachers might be subject to constitutionality issues.

Milosch said that the constitutional question, which applies to the state constitution not the U.S. constitution, was a primary reason the legislation had been drafted for public school teachers and administrators only. However, he said, he would be willing to look into the issue.

    

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