Calling it a “back-door voucher” that would lead to “gutting” of public schools a coalition of faith, education, labor and community groups are organizing to block a Minnesota Republican backed bill that would give tax breaks to people who donate to private school scholarship funds. The proposal would also give people tax credits for private school tuition.
Members of Education Minnesota, ISAIAH, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change and Service Employees International Union Local 284 held a news conference on Tuesday prior to a Senate hearing on SF 256.
The groups tied the bill to Betsy DeVos, President Donald Trump’s controversial pick for U.S. Secretary of Education. They say bill is copied word-for-word from groups funded by DeVos.
Rev. Paul Slack “We believe it is bad for Minnesota, it is bad for our communities and it is bad for our children.”
Groups say tax bill will divert funding from public schools
Above: audio of news conference
Nick Faber, Vice President of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers said he was frustrated with “a bill that claims to be about equity and opportunity and is actually going to be removing $35 million from public schools.”
Faber notes that public schools accept and welcome all children, no matter how much money their parents have. He also said that since 2003, schools have seen their funding drop making it even harder to serve all students. Local tax levies have not been able to make up the difference in many districts.
The bill would give individuals and corporations a tax break if they donate to a scholarship that allows a student from a low-income household to attend a private school. The tax credit would be up to $10,500 for individuals, up to $21,000 for married couples, and up to $105,000 for corporations.
Faber called the bill a “distraction” about the “underfunding and lack of support for public schools that give the rich and corporate interests a way to say they are doing something for students of color, when in actuality they’re stealing money from our students on a regular basis to fund their tax breaks.”