By Todd Engdahl, EDUCATION NEWS COLORADO
Both House Bills 10-1295 and 1296 are variations on past (unsuccessful) Republican attempts to allow tax credits for private school tuition. The first bill also would allow a tax credit for parents who home school their children. The second bill would give school districts a $1,000 payment for every student they lose to private schools.
HB 10-1295 is sponsored by 25 Republican lawmakers, led by two of the more conservative members, Rep. Kent Lambert of Colorado Springs and Sen. Kevin Lundberg of Berthoud. (Those two were the authors of a bill requiring the state hold some of its revenues in gold, to be stored in safes at the Capitol. A committee made short work of that this week, killing it.) Noticeably absent from the sponsors is Rep. Tom Massey, R-Poncha Springs, perhaps one of the more influential GOP House members on education issues.)
HB 10-1296 is sponsored only by Rep. Spencer Swalm, R-Centennial, and Senate Majority Leader Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction.
In past attempts, Republicans have argued that such tax credits would actually save the state and school districts money, a point that’s never been made clear to education interests and Democratic lawmakers.
While the proposals could make for interesting debate, they’re expected to fail for three reasons: 1) Democrats control the legislature, 2) the education lobby, and 3) most lawmakers don’t want to fiddle with school finance or tax credits when the state budget is in the tank.