Ritz seeks tax break for textbooks in budget proposal

Public school parents across Indiana could get a $1,000 annual tax break to cover the cost of textbooks if the Indiana Department of Education’s latest budget proposal, released Tuesday, were adopted.

However, the Republican-led Indiana General Assembly, which decides how Indiana spends its money, has been hostile to many of Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz’s proposals in the past. Lawmakers declined to include a textbook tax break, pushed by Ritz in 2015, in the last two-year state budget.

Work begins on a new budget when the legislature starts its 2017 work in January. It must send a new budget to the governor by the end of April.

Ritz has been critical of the legislature for the fact that Indiana is one of eight states that allows public schools to charge for textbooks. She noted that families of children in private schools get a tax break for textbooks, but families whose children attend public schools do not.

“It is time for middle class Hoosiers to get a tax break as well,” Ritz said.

Her budget proposal would also funnel $455 million in new funds to schools across the state and expand pre-kindergarten programs in every district.

Ritz faces a re-election challenge this fall from Republican Jennifer McCormick, the superintendent of schools in Yorktown.

Chalkbeat is a not-for-profit news site covering educational change in public schools.

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