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Lawmakers reject bill granting tax credit to home-school parents

Published: Thursday, Feb. 27 2014 7:19 p.m. MST

A bill that would provide a $500-per-family tax credit to parents who home-school their children failed in a 32-37 vote of the House. (Gerry Broome, Associated Press) A bill that would provide a $500-per-family tax credit to parents who home-school their children failed in a 32-37 vote of the House. (Gerry Broome, Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY — Lawmakers Thursday narrowly rejected a proposal to grant $500 in tax credits to parents who home-school their children.

In a 32-37 vote, members of the Utah House defeated HB77, sponsored by Rep. David Lifferth, R-Eagle Mountain.

The bill would have created a per-family tax credit of $500 for parents whose children are schooled at home. Lifferth described the proposal as a small relief for home-school families who do not receive the textbooks or other materials provided by the public education system.

"I think that home-schooling children is a noble and honorable cause," he said.

But some lawmakers argued that the tax credit would create a dangerous precedent that erodes the principle of all members of society supporting and benefiting from an educated population.

"To begin creating exceptions to that, to me, is troubling and will lead us down a path that will not end in being good for our students and for our state as a whole," said Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City.

Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Salt Lake City, said many home-schooled children continue to benefit from public education services, such as online courses and extracurricular activities. But children who leave the public education system are not subject to the same regulations as their peers in the education system.

"We do not require the same kind of regulation for home-schoolers," Moss said. "Right now, they’re exempt from a lot of those regulations."

Rep. Jacob Anderegg, R-Lehi, suggested it was "hypocrisy" for lawmakers to oppose a home-school tax credit but support using public education funds for preschool programs and other initiatives.

Anderegg spoke of his own experience home-schooling his son, paying privately for a tutor while still contributing to the public system through taxes.

"What’s good for the goose better be good for the gander, and these are children too who need to be educated," he said.

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