Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Universal Tax Credits by The Mackinac Center

The U.S. Supreme Court has defended the primary right and responsibility of parents to direct the education of their children.

However, Article 8, Section 2 of the 1963 Michigan Constitution prevents the majority of Michigan parents from choosing the safest and best schools for their children without paying twice. It is therefore incumbent upon the Legislature and the citizens of Michigan to remove the 1970 amendment that took away this right and responsibility from parents.

Under the current system, parents who choose to send their children to a nongovernment school must pay twice-once in taxes for public schools they don't use and again in tuition for the school they do use. This financial penalty prevents the majority of Michiganians from exercising their rights as parents, as it is only the wealthy who are able to afford such financial choices.

As detailed in the Mackinac Center for Public Policy study, "The Universal Tuition Tax Credit: A Proposal to Advance Parental Choice in Education," a properly designed education tax credit plan can save money for the state's School Aid Fund, make possible an increase in the state's per pupil foundation allocation, create new incentives for school improvement, and expand options for parents-all at the same time. Education tax credits are gaining momentum across the country.

In recent years, 12 states have considered, and six have passed into law, some form of education tax credit. Arizona's program is the largest in the country, having provided more than 19,000 scholarships worth over $32 million to low-income students since 1998. In 2001, Pennsylvania and Florida enacted credits for businesses that want to help pay tuition for students to attend better or safer schools.

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