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”.
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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- North Dakota Bill Versions: HB 1281 (nd.gov)
- North Dakota Bill Versions: HB 1321 (nd.gov)
- North Dakota Bill Actions: HB 1321 (nd.gov)
- per pupil payment north dakota – Google Search
- North Dakota Legislative Branch Video (nd.gov)