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House kills tax credit for home schooling

Published February 27, 2014 9:02 pm

Back-door voucher? • Critics said it could lead to credits for private schools, others.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The House on Thursday killed a bill that would have provided a $500 tax credit to families that home school their children.

HB77 died on a 32-37 vote after critics said it was essentially a back-door school voucher bill that could open the door for similar credits for students at private schools — or even families that have no children.

Rep. David Lifferth, R-Eagle Mountain, the bill's sponsor, said it would help home-schoolers better afford their education, and save the state $60 million a year by taking them out of the public-school system. But fiscal analysts said his revised bill would cost about $1.5 million to fund the credits.

Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, noted the public has previously voted down vouchers for private schooling. "This is a little different, but it's not all that different."

She said if a credit is given to home-schoolers, "Why not include private schools too? They are paying into the tax system. They are not getting a benefit. I don't see the difference."

Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City, said, "Whether you have children at home, whether your children have all graduated, whether you never had children, whether you've never been married, all those people have to pay through income tax to support our public-education system."

He added, "To begin to create exceptions to that to me is troubling and would lead us down a path that will not end in being good for our students or our state."

Rep. Marie Poulson, D-Cottonwood Heights, a retired teacher, said public schools benefit home-schooled kids because she saw them often cycle in and out of public classrooms, and many use teaching plans developed by public schools.

But Rep. Jacob Anderegg, R-Lehi, said he had to home school a son with dyslexia using a specialist that cost $450 a month because public schools could not help him. "These are children, too, who need to be educated," and said the credit would bring long-overdue help.

Rep. Kay Christofferson, R-Lehi, said the credit is needed so "those who care to educate their family in a different manner may do so."