Scholarships and tax credit bills for private schools were once again the topic of a House hearing this past week. The House Education Finance Committee on Thursday heard bills in which numerous school advocacy groups testified against, including MREA.

Those bills, in addition to one for a tax credit on education-related expenses, were approved.

HF386 authored by Rep. Ron Kresha (R-Little Falls) would create scholarships for low-income students to attend non-public schools, while also establishing a tax credit incentive for those who donate to them. The bill is pitting school choice supporters against those fearful other students could be left behind.

HF387, sponsored by Rep. Jim Knoblach (R-St. Cloud) would increase the maximum E-12 education tax deduction from $1,625 to $2,600 for each child in grades K-6, and from $2,500 to $3,000 for each in grades 7-12. It would also extend the E-12 education tax credit from $1,000 to $1,500 per child and increase the family income level at which the credit will phase out from $33,500 to $47,500. All thresholds would be annually adjusted for inflation.

The credits are currently not available for use toward non-public education tuition; that would change under the proposal effective in tax year 2017.

HF255, sponsored by Rep. Sarah Anderson (R-Plymouth), would change the threshold of tax credits for education-expenses for grades E-12 from $1,000 per child with a family income greater than $35,000, to $1,500 per child with a family income greater than $50,000. It would also make the income threshold for the credits adjusted for inflation beginning in tax year 2018. The maximum possible credit would be reduced to $1 for each $4 over the income threshold. It was approved on a 16-0 roll-call vote.

All three bills were approved on party-line votes and sent to the Taxes Committee.

HF602 would provide a tax credit equal to 75 percent of the amount paid for the education-related expenses of a qualifying child in an educational pre-kindergarten program. It would also allow related expenses to be deducted: up to $1,625 for pre-kindergarten through sixth grade, and up to $2,500 for grades 7-12. Current expense deductions are limited to E-12 education. Changes would be effective for tax years after Dec. 31, 2016. Approved Tuesday by the House Education Innovation Policy Committee, it now heads to the House Education Finance Committee.