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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Michael Nelson (DFL)

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

St. Paul, MN – State Representative Michael Nelson (DFL-Brooklyn Park) is wishing students well as they prepare for the upcoming school year and reminding families about tax credits for school supplies and significant funding increases for their local schools districts.

In addition, all-day Kindergarten is available for every child free of charge for the first time in state history, and college students are benefiting from the second year of a tuition freeze at state colleges and universities. Not to be overlooked, the legislature passed bills that increased school lunch aid to make sure that no student is denied a hot meal at lunchtime and provide special financial assistance to school districts to guarantee that all kindergartners, regardless of ability to pay, receive breakfast. 

“A good education is a right – not a privilege,” Representative Nelson said. “And that extends to young children. Making all-day, every day helps them get off to a good start in life and helps their parents, who no longer have to foot the bill.”

Major highlights for the upcoming school year include:

ALL-DAY KINDERGARTEN FOR EVERY CHILD - For the first time in state history, all-day Kindergarten is available for every child free of charge. As a result, families with Kindergarteners will save thousands of dollars every year. Moms and dads previously paid around $3,000 in tuition for the full day option.

TAX CREDITS FOR SCHOOL SUPPLIES - Minnesota offers two programs to help moms and dads pay for their children’s education expenses. The K-12 Education Subtraction and the K-12 Education Credit can lower the tax you pay or increase your refund when filing your Minnesota income tax return. You may qualify for the K-12 subtraction, the K-12 credit, or both if you save your receipts.

Common expenses that qualify include school supplies such as pencils, paper and calculators, educational computer hardware and software, extracurricular academic or fine arts classes such as dance, music lessons, art and science, and tutoring for subjects needed for K-12 classes taught by a qualified instruction.

The K-12 subtraction lets you subtract qualifying educational expenses from your taxable income when you file a Minnesota income tax return. You may subtract up to $1,625 in education expenses for each child in grades kindergarten through 6, and $2,500 for each child in grades 7 through 12. There is no income limit to qualify for the education subtraction, and you may qualify regardless of your filing status.

The K-12 credit reduces your state income tax or increases your refund. If you meet certain income requirements, you may claim this credit on your Minnesota income tax return for up to 75 percent of qualifying educational expenses. You may claim this credit and receive a refund even if you don’t owe income tax for the year.

* You can click here to watch an informational video from the Minnesota Department of Revenue. 

FUNDING INCREASES FOR LOCAL SCHOOLS – Minnesota schools received significant funding increases for the upcoming school year – nearly $487 million in additional funding. For the Osseo School District, that means more than $12.8 million more for its classrooms.

“Investing in Minnesota means investing in Minnesota’s classrooms,” Representative Nelson said. “The key to creating a world-class workforce is a world-class education. The historic investments we are making today will pay dividends for years to come.”

HOT LUNCHES FOR LOW-INCOME STUDENTS - A report from Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid published earlier this year found that some Minnesota school districts denied hot lunch to low-income students who had insufficient funds in their lunch accounts. In response, the legislature unanimously increased funding for the school lunch program to ensure no child is ever denied a hot lunch due to the inability to pay.

TUITION FREEZE FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS - The legislature froze tuition for two years for Minnesota residents earning an undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system. Tuition had more than doubled over the previous decade before the tuition freeze went into effect last year. State lawmakers also made the largest investment in state financial aid in over a decade to help more students pay for a post-secondary degree.