The House Education Policy Committee on Tuesday offered proposals to create and expand tax credits for education-related expenditures that are aimed at improving K-12 outcomes for students. Most received approval nods.
Rep. Dean Urdahl (R-Grove City) hopes to provide a financial incentive for teachers to pursue their master’s degree in the content area in which they teach. He sponsors HF245, which would allow licensed K-12 teachers who complete a master’s degree program in their field of licensure to qualify for a refundable individual income tax credit of $2,500. The bill, which has no Senate companion, was laid on the table for future consideration by the committee.
Members debated over a provision of another bill that would extend the K-12 education credit for families to nonpublic school tuition. The word “voucher” was waved around by DFL members, but the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jim Knoblach (R-St. Cloud), said his proposal contained no such language, in technicality or spirit. Knoblach said the bill provides important financial help for public and private school families alike. The bill, which has no Senate companion, was passed on a split voice vote and referred to the House Education Finance Committee. Additionally, the bill would increase the maximum credit for public and nonpublic school tuition from $1,000 to $1,500 per child.
The committee also approved HF72, sponsored by Rep. Sarah Anderson (R-Plymouth). The bill would extend the education expense deduction and the education tax credit in Minnesota’s individual income tax to prekindergarten educational programs. Current law limits the deduction and credit to education-related expenses for children in grades K-12. The bill was referred to the House Education Finance Committee. Its companion, SF304, is sponsored by Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) and is awaiting action by the Senate Taxes Committee.
A second Anderson-sponsored bill also received committee approval and was sent to the House Education Finance Committee. HF667 would increase the maximum K-12 education expense credit from $1,000 to $1,500 per child, increase the income at which the credit begins to phase out from $33,500 to $50,000 and decrease the rate of the phaseout. The bill, which has no Senate companion, would adjust the income level at which the credit begins to phase out annually for inflation, beginning in tax year 2016.
More help for students with reading disorders is in a bill to extend by five years a refundable tax credit for families that spend money on out-of-school reading tutoring. HF359, sponsored by Rep. Linda Runbeck (R-Circle Pines), would also increase the maximum credit from $2,000 to $3,000.
A 2014 law that created the tax credit included language that allowed the tax credit for one year only. The credit, which is not subject to an income-based phaseout, would also be extended to include the cost of evaluations needed to diagnose a reading disorder. Approved by the committee, it was sent to the House Education Finance Committee. A companion, SF271, sponsored by Sen. Roger Chamberlain (R-Lino Lakes), awaits action by the Senate Education Committee.