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Tuition tax credits useful

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Allen Barney inaccurately claims (Dec. 29) that tuition tax credits will be financially viable only if the students using the tax credit come from the same school. Like most opponents of the tuition tax credit, Mr. Barney refers to a hypothetical school with 1,000 students and claims that if only two or three students leave, the fixed overhead costs are not reduced.

However, if this 1,000-student school is representative of Utah schools in general, the school will grow by 300 students over the next 10 years. To accommodate the 300-student growth, the school will have to hire teachers and expand physical facilities that are not part of the current cost structure of the 1,000-student school.

Therefore, the goal is to divert students from the growth in student enrollment, not the base. Each of the additional 300 students diverted to the private sector with a $2,000 tax credit saves the Utah taxpayer and the public school system $2,000 because the taxpayer would normally have to pay $4,000 per student to educate that student in the public system.

This $2,000 savings stays within the public school system, thereby increasing the amount of funds available to the students remaining in the system.

In addition to saving $2,000 in operating costs, tuition tax credits also reduce the need to build additional facilities, which are expected to exceed $1.5 billion over the next 10 years.

Tuition tax credits are financially viable and provide much-needed competition to the current system.

Mike Jerman

Vice President

Utah Taxpayers Association

Salt Lake City