Tuition Tax Credits, Funding Trimmed From Education Bill

Tuition Tax Credits, Funding Trimmed From Education Bill

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- After lots of debate and even more lobbying, the effort to approve tax credits for parents who send their children to private schools is all but dead.

The controversial measure had been rolled into a massive education reform bill. However, it will be stripped out of the legislation when it comes to the House floor for debate, the House Republican caucus decided Monday.

It won't be going alone. Almost all of the funding in the bill will be stripped as well.

Originally unveiled as a $90 million infusion of money and reform, it looks like when the education bill is approved in the House it will only be funded by $3 million to $5 million.

That is supposed to be enough oversee the 18 or 19 proposed education reforms, House speaker Marty Stephens told the Republican representatives. However, the proposed $97 million from an increase in personal and corporate income taxes had been meant to address such education problems as crowded classrooms.

Tuition tax credits could be debated separately on the House floor, if the bill's House sponsor can guarentee at least 38 votes approving the bill, Stephens said.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Thomas Hatch, R-Panguitch, had said his bill would let public schools figure out ways to start evaluating students based on their mastery of basic skills instead of "seat-time" in class.

Hatch's bill had initially promised another $30 million a year for education, including $5 million to study new ways of teaching. Even that was short of the $90-million increase recommended by Gov. Mike Leavitt's education task force for all schools.

Hatch said it would take a year before his legislation could start to produce any changes in the way schools teach. Schools are overcrowded and underperforming, and should be focusing on fundamentals, he said.

The bill follows many of the recommendations of Leavitt's Employers' Education Coalition.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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