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Utah House Approves $50 Tax Credit for Teachers Who Buy Classroom Supplies

The Utah House of Representatives voted Monday to give a $50 tax credit to public school teachers who use their own money to buy classroom supplies. The small gesture sparked a large debate about education resources.

Republican Steve Eliason of Sandy says House Bill 207 started with a parent teacher conference. When the representative learned how much money the teacher was spending out of pocket in his child’s classroom, he wanted to do something about it.  The bill provides a $50 tax credit to teachers, an amount Eliason admits is not adequate.   

“It is a small recognition of some of the personal sacrifices that our teachers make in the classroom on behalf of our children, for which they are not reimbursed,” Eliason told lawmakers.

Classroom supplies are funded each year through a one-time appropriation. This year, lawmakers are expected to approve 5 million dollars. Several Representatives pointed out that’s the same amount that was appropriated more than 20 years ago. Republican Keven Stratton of Orem told legislators on the House floor that they need to do more to meet teachers’ needs.

“If we want to do something like this as it related to supplies, let’s increase the opportunity for them to buy supplies,” Stratton said. “If we want to help them, let’s give them a raise.”

HB 207 calls for the state Department of Education to conduct a study of classroom supply needs to determine whether the credit amount should be adjusted. After a half hour of discussion, the House passed the bill 48 to 24. It goes now to the Senate for consideration.

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World. Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Prior to that, she worked at Seattleââ
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