Tax Credits for Special Needs Children
Special Report - June 11, 2008
The majority of North Carolinians in a recent poll support the idea of providing the parents of special needs children with education tax credits or scholarships that would allow the child to attend a school of their parents’ choice. The poll, released June 10, was commissioned by Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina (PEFNC) and conducted by Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling (PPP). During the poll, PPP surveyed 521 “likely North Carolina voters” to gauge their support for proposed legislation that would allow the parents of special needs child to claim a tax credit for sending their child to a private school, or a public school that requires tuition.
According to the poll, 49 percent of North Carolinians said they were “very favorable” to education tax credits that would enable the parents of a special needs child to send their child to a private school, followed by 27 percent who were “somewhat favorable” to the idea. Support for the special needs tax credits was even stronger among parents in the poll, with 60 percent “very favorable,” and 19 percent “somewhat favorable.” When asked to rate their support for a plan that would allow parents to use a “special needs scholarship” to send their child to a private school, 45 percent of North Carolinians said they were “very favorable” to the idea, and 29 percent said they were “somewhat favorable.” Among parents, 55 percent indicated that they were “very favorable” to special needs scholarships, and 27 percent said they were “somewhat favorable.”
North Carolinians were also asked to rate their support for legislation that is currently pending in the State House and Senate that would allow tax credits for the education of special needs children. The proposed legislation, HB 388-Tax Credits for Children with Special Needs and similar SB 2059, would allow parents to claim a tax credit of up to $3,000 per semester for the education of their special needs child at a private school or tuition-required public school. Although SB 2059 was recently introduced in the Senate, HB 388 was filed last year in the House where the House Education Committee reported the bill out of committee “without prejudice.” Both bills currently reside in the Finance Committees of their respective chambers.
Overall, 52 percent of North Carolinians in the poll said they were “very favorable” to the legislation, and 28 percent said they were “somewhat favorable.” Support for the measure was higher among parents in the poll, with 63 percent of parents with school-aged children indicating they were “very favorable” and 19 percent indicating they were “somewhat favorable” to the legislation.
At a press conference held at the General Assembly on June 10, PEFNC president Darrell Allison joined House and Senate sponsors of the legislation to call on state lawmakers to pass HB 388 or SB 2059. Leslie Petruk, the mother of a special needs child, also gave a compelling testimony about the significant challenges she and her husband have faced attempting to educate their son Brandon in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system. She said the up to $6,000 a year tax credit would enable Brandon and other children with special needs to attend a private school where they would have the opportunity to receive the specialized, individual care they so desperately need and deserve.
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