KASB urges Kansas representatives to oppose U.S. House tax bill

KASB President Dayna Miller in a letter on Monday urged Kansas members of the U.S. House of Representatives to oppose H.R. 1, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” that expands tuition tax credits (vouchers) for nonpublic schools. The bill also eliminates bond programs that benefit school districts and save taxpayers money. The measure eliminates some state and local tax deductions that encourage home ownership, which in turn provides property taxes that support local school districts. Finally, the bill also eliminates the $250 teacher tax deduction for personal spending on classroom supplies.  

The House of Representatives will most likely debate H.R. 1 this Thursday, November 16; KASB members should contact their Member of Congress immediately to ask them to oppose the bill: 

Rep. Roger Marshall: Washington, D.C.: 202-225-2715; Garden City: 620-765-7800; Salina: 785-829-9000.  

Rep. Lynn Jenkins: Washington, D.C.: (202) 225-6601; Topeka: (785) 234-LYNN (5966); Pittsburg: 620) 231-LYNN (5966)  

Rep. Kevin Yoder: Washington, D.C.: (202) 225-2865; Overland Park: (913) 621-0832  

Rep. Ron Estes: Washington, D.C.: (202) 225-6216; Wichita: (316) 262-8992.  

H.R. 1 authorizes the expansion of the Coverdell education savings program from a $2,000 annual limit to a $10,000 annual pre-tax tuition credit (vouchers) for tuition payments to public, private, or religious elementary and secondary schools. KASB opposes legislation that would use tuition tax credits or voucher systems to aid private elementary or secondary schools. 

“As you know, Kansas public schools do not charge tuition, so the Coverdell expansion amounts to a voucher payment that siphons away students and resources from the public schools that are the foundation of democracy in our state and nation,” Miller wrote. “If Congress seeks to incentivize ‘school choice,’ our students are better served by additional support for the outstanding public schools that already provide a wide range of choice options, including magnet schools, charter schools supervised by local boards of education, CTE programs, International Baccalaureate programs, STEM, JROTC and many others.” 

Miller, who serves on the Basehor-Linwood USD 458 board of education, also noted KASB’s opposition to the bill’s $10,000 limit on the property tax deduction for itemized filers and the elimination of the deductions for other state and local taxes. The deductions provide a strong incentive to middle-class home ownership; the property taxes paid by home owners are a critical component of state and local government budgets. State and local tax deductions (SALT) have been part of the federal tax code for nearly 100 years. 

“Your constituents are fully aware of the pressure placed on you by Congressional leaders and the Administration to deliver tax reform this year. We acknowledge that the federal tax code must reflect 21st Century reality,” Miller wrote. “We urge you, however, to oppose the bill as it is currently written due to the harm it will inflict on Kansas public schools.” 

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