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Arizona House Moves Forward With Teacher Tax Credits For Classroom Supplies

Over the objections of Democrats, the state House voted Thursday to give teachers a dollar-for-dollar credit on their income taxes for at least some of what they personally spend on classroom supplies.

The proposal by Rep. Jeff Weninger, R-Chandler, would let teachers reduce their taxes by up to $200 a year.

Rep. Randall Friese, D-Tucson, said he understands what Weninger is trying to do, but maintains it's ill conceived. "If we were to adequately fund our classrooms we wouldn't need to continue to indirectly fund our classrooms through tax credits."

And Friese complained the legislation would open up the tax credits-- and the state treasury-- not only to public school teachers but also those teaching at private and parochial schools, and parents who homeschool their children.

Rep. Chris Ackerley, R-Sahuarita, who teaches high school physics, said suggestions to simply divide the cost among all schools ignores the reality of what happens in the classroom.

"This bill is about when I need a box of baking soda for a science lab or my wife needs to replace the strings on one of her student's cellos," he explained. "We could go through a process of putting in a purchase order request, waiting a couple of weeks for that to be processed, turning around, having to go through the hassle of having to coordinate all the logistics that go along with that. But the problem is, the lab already happened, the concert already happened."

Thursday's preliminary approval sets the stage for a roll-call vote next week.