House Bill looks to increase qualified education tax credit

Montana Right Now

The Montana Legislature is looking at a House Bill proposal that could promote school privatization more than ever.

The Montana Budget & Policy Center says this proposal could be a huge benefit for private schools, but not so much for the public schools.

House Bill 279 proposes to increase the qualified education tax credit to $200,000 from its current limit of $150, for 100% of the private school contribution.

With public education making 22% of state and local spending in Montana in 2018, this proposal could divert public funding from public schools.

“Well, the tuition tax credit reduces state revenue and correspondingly state revenue is what pays for a lot of state education,” Senior Fiscal Policy Analyst Rose Bender said.

With more than half of Montana’s 56 counties not having a private school, Bender says this proposal could have a negative impact down the road.

“It would limit the educational opportunities for rural Montana kids who don’t have equitable access to alternative educational options, including those living on reservations,” Bender said.

With 100% of contributions allowed as credit, plus federal tax deductions, some taxpayers could make a profit contributing to this fund.

The bill has already been heard in committee and Bender says it could be a while before the final decision is made.