Shortly after the commencement of the 107th Congress, two bills-House Resolution 1 (H.R. 1) and Senate Bill 1 (S. 1)-were introduced in response to the president's "No Child Left Behind" education proposal. These bills will reauthorize the massive Elementary and Secondary Education (ESEA) Act.
HSLDA's National Center for Home Education has been keeping a close eye on H.R. 1 and S. 1. Now that both bills have passed their respective chambers, we are monitoring their progress as the conference committee merges the two bills.
On May 23, the House passed H.R. 1 with several amendments attached that are beneficial to home schooling families, including the following: Ban on any development of a national database of personally identifiable information.
S. 1 completely eliminates any federal control of home schoolers by the department of education. It also fixes a long-standing flaw in the law by excluding all home schools from the gun-free school zone requirements.
HSLDA and the National Center have not endorsed H.R. 1 or S. 1 because they deal mostly with public education. But, the attached amendments will protect home schooling families across the nation, and thus HSLDA and the National Center did not actively oppose either bill.
Read more about H.R. 1 and S. 1 on our federal legislation page at www.hslda.org/legislation/national.
Education tax credits
On May 21-23, McLaughlin and Associates conducted a nationwide poll of 1,000 likely voters, consisting of a broad array of parties and interest groups. Surprisingly, the study revealed that the vast majority of Americans, both liberals and conservatives, favor education tax credits.
The National Center for Home Education has been watching tax credit proposals within Congress. Already, in the 107th Congress, Senators George Allen (R-VA), John Warner (R-VA), and Larry Craig (R-ID) along with Representative Eric Cantor (R-VA) have introduced legislation that would provide a $1000 per child tax credit for educational expenses. The Senate version (S. 488) limits the total credit to $2,000 per family for tutoring and computer technology or equipment expenses. The House version (H.R. 257-The Education Empowerment Tax Credit Act) does not limit the number of credits per household but gives an educational expense tax credit up to $1000 per child. Qualified expenses include tuition and fees, books, academic tutoring, special needs services, computers and computer equipment, and educational supplies. All expenses must be academically related.
The National Center and 12 other pro-family organizations sent the members of Congress a coalition letter encouraging them to support H.R. 257. Read the coalition letter on our website at www.hslda.org/legislation/national. Read National Center's Issues Analysis: "Three Ways Congress Can Change the Tax Code to Improve Education" at www.hslda.org/docs/display.asp?folder=1841.
On May 2, 2001, Representative Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) introduced a new tax credit bill, H.R. 1681-the Voluntary Opportunities for Increasing
Contributions to Education Act. This measure will allow a tax credit for contributions to scholarships for low-income students to attend elementary and secondary schools, and for upgrading elementary and secondary school facilities and technology. The National Center is reviewing this bill. Check our website for further information.
Pennsylvania offers education tax credits
Governor Tom Ridge signed House Bill 996 into law on May 17, making Pennsylvania the sixth state to institute an education tax credit system. This bill provides tax credits for corporate donations to public or private school scholarship foundations. Two-thirds of the $30 million plan would be allocated to give businesses a credit against their state taxes of 75 cents for every dollar donated. A multi-year donation commitment would be rewarded with 90 cents on the dollar. It is estimated that this credit would provide up to $40 million in scholarships for Pennsylvania children to attend the public or private school of their choice. The remaining $10 million of the $30 million tax credit plan would be earmarked for "innovative public school programs" and would be funded by private donations.
Education tax credit programs appear to be sprouting all over, both in the states and federal government. Tax credits are being recognized as one of the best ways to offer parents real choices in where their children attend school. However, each state has different prerequisites for receiving a tax credit. In Pennsylvania, to receive one of the scholarships generated by the tax credit, families' incomes must not exceed $50,000. However, for each household dependent, an additional $10,000 of income is eligible.