Private Education Bill Fails in ND Legislature

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Before this year's legislative session ends, state lawmakers have to come up with a K through 12 public education spending plan.

But, a bill dealing with private education prompted several lawmakers to speak up today.

House Bill 1254 would have provided a tax deduction to parents who send their child to private school and have to pay for things like books and tuition. But it didn't quite get enough support to move on.

When it comes to private school or public school education parents get to choose where they send their kids.

And, if they choose private it can sometimes come with a hefty price tag, which is why some lawmakers wanted to provide a tax deduction to those families who choose to go that route for their child's education.

"This state spends nearly eleven thousand dollars for every student to educate them in our state. So these parents are saving our state 75 million dollars and we can't help them with one million dollars? They're also helping pay the two billion dollars worth of payments towards the public schools," said Sen. Terry Wanzek, R-Jamestown.

The bill would have provided a tax deduction of up to $5,000 per child to parents who make up to $120,000 a year filing jointly. If they qualified for the full deduction they would get roughly $114 back on their taxes.

"I just think that it would be a good idea to let these folks go out for a $114 dinner once a year. We should be doing more than that," said Sen. Oley Larsen, R-Minot.

But some senators thought providing tax breaks for private school wasn't a path the legislature should go down.

"Not that this is a big amount that it's really going to upset the apple cart of what's funding k-12. But it's definitely a policy shift of the state of North Dakota of how we fund education and it's probably something that we really should think about," said Sen. Donald Schaible, R-Mott.

In the end the legislature was only a few votes short of passing the bill. It failed 24 to 22.

One bill that did pass was one to increase the amount of income tax credits corporations can earn if they provide charitable contributions to private schools.