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5/24/2002 6:15:02 PM
Scott W. Somerville, Esq., Staff Attorney of HSLDA
Louisiana: Committee to Vote Wednesday on H.B. 43

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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May 24, 2002

Dear Louisiana Members and Friends,

Six weeks ago, I called home school leaders in Louisiana to tell them
about the best school choice legislation I have ever seen. House Bill
43 provides for "scholarship/educational assistance tax credits,"
which allow ordinary families to set up scholarship funds for
children who are trapped in failing schools. Unlike voucher programs,
which give the government the power to control private education,
H.B. 43 provides for real educational choice without government
strings.

Over the last few weeks, supporters of H.B. 43 have kept us posted on
the status of the bill. Both Democrats and Republicans have been
supportive, and it is now before the House Ways and Means Committee,
which must approve any tax legislation. This committee should vote on
the measure Wednesday.

This morning I received an urgent phone call from one of the chief
supporters of the bill. He told me the Louisiana teachers
associations and unions have mobilized their lobbyists to oppose H.B.
43. Legislators who had previously said they would support the bill
are suddenly coming under pressure. Even though this legislation does
not reduce state education appropriations by one penny, the teachers'
union is out to kill it.

This is good legislation, which will provide real choices for needy
children. We can't let the teachers unions scuttle this bill. It is
time for home schoolers to go to work.

REQUESTED ACTION

Please call your own representative and each of the following
selected members of the House Ways and Means Committee and urge them
to vote for H.B. 43. (Since this is Memorial Day weekend, most
district offices will be closed. Please start calling on Tuesday
morning!) Three reasons to support H.B. 43 are:

(1) Scholarship/educational assistance tax credits help needy
children get a better education.
(2) Scholarship/educational assistance tax credits raise more money
for education without raising taxes.
(3) Voters support scholarship/educational assistance tax credits,
regardless of their race, religion, or party affiliation.

Find your state legislator using our "legislative toolbox" at
http://www.hslda.org/toolbox/?State=LA.

SELECTED WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE MEMBERS

Vice-Chair: Sydnie Mae M. Durand, District 46 (Parks) 337-845-4240
John A. Alario, Jr., District 83 (Westwego) 504-340-2221
Carla Blanchard Dartez, District 51 (Morgan City) 985-385-7019
Rick Farrar, District 27 (Pineville) 318-484-2210
Alexander "Alex" Heaton, District 95 (New Orleans) 504-483-4235
Herman Ray Hill, District 32 (Dry Creek) 800-259-2118
Mitch Landrieu, District 89 (New Orleans) 504-568-5750
Kenneth L. Odinet, Sr., District 103 (Arabi) 504-361-6685
T. Taylor Townsend, District 23 (Natchitoches) 318-357-7048

After calling your own representative and these select members of the
Ways and Means Committee, please take the time to call Senator Robert
Barham, at 318-244-6583, to thank him for his continued leadership
and support for Senate Bill 15, similar legislation in the Senate.

BACKGROUND

House Bill 43 creates a "scholarship/educational assistance tax
credit" (SEATC) that allows you to redirect your taxes to private
education instead of government schools. H.B. 43 allows scholarship
funds to collect private donations and then use that money to provide
scholarships for needy children. Each time a Louisiana taxpayer
donates a dollar to one of these scholarship funds, he saves 70 cents
on his state income tax.

Tax legislation can be confusing unless you use examples. Let's
consider the Smith family. The Smiths expect to pay $700 in state
income taxes this year. The Smiths start a scholarship fund to help
some of the poor children, handicapped children, and single parents
that they know. With a little help from the A Choice for Every Child
Foundation (see their website at
http://www.scholarshiptaxcredit.com/beginafoundation.html), the
Smiths start the "Lafayette Scholarship Fund."

The Smiths make a $1000 donation to the fund, and then they share
their vision with friends and neighbors. They aren't professional
fundraisers, but they still manage to collect a total of $3500. That
is the maximum that any one child could receive as a scholarship
(unless the child has special needs). Instead of just helping one
child, however, the scholarship fund s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s that money
enough to help two children afford a private schools. They give $2000
to one family and $1500 to another. This isn't quite what these
schools charge, but the parents of those children pay some of the
tuition themselves.

When tax time comes, the Smiths can claim a credit for 70% of the
$1000 they donated. That credit pays off their entire $700 tax bill!
The tax credit means that Louisiana does not collect $2450 in taxes
(70% of the entire $3500 in the fund), but it saves more than $10,000
in per-pupil costs for the two students who are now in private
schools. In this example, every $1 of tax credit buys $4 worth of
education!

Once voters understand how scholarship/educational assistance tax
credits work, they like them. According to polls, some 77% of
registered Republicans and 82% of registered Democrats favor tax-
credits for donations to scholarship organizations that help children
in need. Taxpayers like them because they save money. People who
worry about the "separation of church and state" like them because
they never use state money for religious instruction. Home schoolers
like them because they open up educational options.

Scholarship/educational assistance tax credits provide real choices
for real children. H.B. 43 has a real chance of passing the House
Ways and Means Committee next week--unless the teachers' union kills
it. Please ask the committee to help children and families by voting
for H.B. 43!

Scott W. Somerville, Esq.
HSLDA Staff Attorney


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