Capital Clicks

Senate committee approves family, educator tax credits in charter school bill

By: - January 26, 2021 2:44 pm

(Photo by Getty Images)

Teachers and parents of homeschool students would be eligible for additional tax credits under a bill advancing in the Iowa Senate this week.

Senate File 159 proposes a scholarship fund for students in some of Iowa’s public schools to attend charter or private schools instead. The bill would also allow charter schools to start independently of a public school district and would discontinue voluntary diversity policies which prohibited open enrollment for some students.

The bill, formerly designed as Senate Study Bill 1065, received Senate Education Committee approval on Monday. The Senate Ways and Means Committee, which reviews tax changes, approved the bill Tuesday.

Under the bill, parents could claim 50% of the first $2,000 they spend on a dependent’s K-12 tuition or textbooks as a tax credit. Families attending private schools and homeschooling would also be eligible for the credit.

Educators at elementary and secondary schools could claim up to a $500 deduction for work expenses, double the federal deduction.

Sen. Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque, said she supported the tax credits, but she voted against the bill, which she called “a very radical departure from public education.”

Education professionals and activists who spoke against the bill Monday argued it would take money away from public schools and could increase segregation in Iowa. Advocates said it would increase choices for students in struggling school districts.

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Katie Akin
Katie Akin

Katie Akin is a former Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter. Katie began her career as an intern at PolitiFact, debunking viral fake news and fact-checking state and national politicians. She moved to Iowa in 2019 for a politics internship at the Des Moines Register, where she assisted with Iowa Caucus coverage, multimedia projects and the Register’s Iowa Poll. She became the Register’s retail reporter in early 2020, chronicling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Central Iowa’s restaurants and retailers.