Nonpublic Schoolchildren Save State $100 Million Per Year

Rep. Mark Owens (R - District 17) urges the House to pass HB 1281. This bill proposes to give tax credits to those who choose a nonpublic option for their child's education. (Photo via screenshot.)

Today, the North Dakota House passed — by the slim margin of 50-44 — Rep. Sebastian Ertelt’s (R – District 26) House Bill 1281. The bill proposes “an income tax credit for taxpayers whose children receive nonpublic school or home education”.

During the 2019 legislative session, Ertelt proposed similar legislation, but it was initially defeated in the House on a vote of 40-52 and then failed to be reconsidered with a vote of 46-46.

While it’s encouraging to see the legislation pass this time around, it’s always baffled me that anyone would vote against it. After all, those parents who choose not to send their kids to public school actually end up paying for both. Is it really asking too much to give a $500 credit per child back? I don’t think that it is.

The argument from the opposition goes that it’s a choice for these parents not to utilize our public schools. In other words, “If you don’t like paying for both, then don’t choose the alternative.” There’s a degree of arrogance that goes with an idea like that. After all, the state mandates the funding for public education. There’s really not much of a choice on that one.

What’s fascinating about HB 1281 stems from a very simple statistic attached to its Fiscal Note. According to Section 3-A of that document, “The total enrollment in nonpublic and home schools in grades k through 12 is approximately 9,600 students.”

Now, that might not mean much to you, but consider this— the per pupil payment for North Dakota students in 2020-2021 is just over $10,000. In other words, if you multiply the number of nonpublic schoolchildren in the state by the per pupil payment, it comes out to $96 Million. That’s right, the state saves nearly $100 Million per year, because some parents choose the alternatives to public school.

Yet, nearly half the legislators in the House can’t see their way to supporting some tax relief for these same parents. It’s absolutely ridiculous.

In addition to the aforementioned savings, Rep. Mark Owens (R – District 17) — who also chairs the House Education Committee — rightfully pointed out to his colleagues today that the legislature gives all sorts of tax credits to industries. Yet, some of these same lawmakers refuse to support giving credits to homeschooling parents. In spite of the fact that it’s for a mode of education parents are paying out of pocket for— and are saving the state a significant amount of dollars by doing so.

There’s simply no excuse to defeat this bill. I hope that you’ll contact your senators and ask them to support it.

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Sources:

  1. North Dakota Bill Versions: HB 1281 (nd.gov)
  2. North Dakota Bill Versions: HB 1321 (nd.gov)
  3. North Dakota Bill Actions: HB 1321 (nd.gov)
  4. per pupil payment north dakota – Google Search
  5. North Dakota Legislative Branch Video (nd.gov)
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About T. Arthur Mason 859 Articles
T. Arthur Mason is a native North Dakotan who has spent nearly all of his life in the Peace Garden State. As the third of four children in Western North Dakota, Mason grew to appreciate family and the outdoors. Some of his fondest memories are annual deer hunts with family and friends. In his early teenage years, faith became a central part of T. Arthur Mason's life. He and the majority of his family attend church together on a weekly basis and find this a fulfilling aspect of their lives. Through the influence of his father, T. Arthur Mason became intrigued with politics. As a boy, he attended political events with his father and enjoyed the friendships that resulted as a byproduct of those political associations. As Mason grew older, he became convinced that the quote often attributed to Thomas Jefferson was true, "That government is best which governs least." Today, T. Arthur Mason enjoys time with his wife and children, an occasional hunt, and an increasingly active life on the political scene. This blog is the fulfillment of a dream to design a web site in the realm of politics and to advocate for the principles of Liberty and constitutionally limited government. On behalf of all those that contribute to The Minuteman, we hope you enjoy your time on the site and will share the message with others.