Thursday, May 22, 2008

Educational Tax Credits in Detroit by Akindele Akinyemi

As Detroit Public Schools have collapsed under the banner of communism this year by falling under 100,000 students we know it is time for a serious change in our schools and the way we conduct the educational process.

Our children deserve better in the city of Detroit and now is the time for serious educational reform in Detroit.

Recently, an universal tuition tax credit program was signed into law in Georgia, granting parents access to $50 million in scholarships to send their children to private schools.

How does it work?

The program allows individuals and businesses to donate some of their state tax liability to organizations offering private school scholarships for students in grades K-12. Businesses can donate up to 75 percent of their state tax liability; individuals can donate up to $1,000, while couples can donate up to $2,500 of their state taxes.

K-12 tax credits have passed state legislatures in Arizona, Minnesota, Iowa, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Illinois.

Pennsylvania's legislature overwhelmingly approved an "Educational Improvement Tax Credit" (EITC) program that allows corporations to receive a 75% tax credit for donations to scholarship and educational improvement organizations. It becomes a 90% tax credit if the donor commits to making the same donation for two consecutive years.

Florida passed legislation to provide tax credits to corporations that donate up to $3,500 (per pupil) to non-profit organizations which award scholarships to children from low-income families. The State saves money for its School Aid Fund or other purposes because it now spends $7,200 on each public school student while the corporate scholarship limit is $3,500.

So how come Michigan does not want to get involved with amending a old constitutional amendment to ban education tax credits for failing schools? It sounds like our lawmakers are fearful. You cannot protect jobs if you cannot protect educational reform to make the market more competitive.

When we properly design an universal tax credit program here in Michigan it will help drive the funding of education away from distant bureaucracies and put it in the hands of all citizens. While education is still overwhelmingly a state and local matter citizens should work to craft universal tax credit plans onto their tax and education infrastructure. This will help galvanize and strengthen Detroit and the rest of Michigan by giving individuals and companies new incentive to assist the educational dreams of their fellow citizens. Finally, it will bolster the incentives of all schools, public and private, to improve.

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