By Rev. Fred Hinz
The Minnesota North and South Districts of the LCMS have been working hard throughout the current legislative session in an effort to encourage our state legislators and our governor to adopt measures that will offer the parents of our state greater choice in the kinds of education they may access for their children. To that end, we, along with our partners in this effort, introduced three bills to help move our state in this direction.
As the end of the session approaches on May 18, I am happy to report that one of these three initiatives have been adopted by the MN House and is included in the House Omnibus tax bill (HF 848), which is now going to a House/Senate Conference Committee. This means that now is a critical time for us as individuals – as people of faith who support the educational ministries of our LCMS schools – to engage in the political process by contacting our legislators and governor urging them to keep these parental choice provisions in the final bill and urge the Governor Dayton to sign it into law.
Specifically, we are asking you to either call or write your state representative and senator, as well as Governor Dayton, and urge them to retain the language of the House bill which would, for the first time, make tuition paid to a parochial school a tax creditable expense. In addition, the House Omnibus tax bill under consideration also increases the overall dollar amounts that can be taken as an education tax deduction or credit for parents. Including tuition as an eligible expense for a tax credit and increasing the dollar amount level of K-12 education tax deductions and credits are a significant help and can help relieve some of the financial burden that can prevent parents from being able to access the most appropriate school options for their children.
For your convenience, our Opportunity for All Kids (OAK) coalition partner, Minnesota Catholic Conference (MCC), has a fast, easy-to-use action campaign for contacting your state legislators on these important tax bill provisions. Click on the link below and follow the prompts to take action from their site. (If you are a first-time user of the MCC Action Center and do not want to receive future advocacy updates from them, just uncheck the “I want to receive future communications” box when you enter your information to access your legislators.)
The Opportunity for All Kids (OAK) coalition includes diverse religious and non-religious organizational members. We have joined forces with the renewed conviction that Minnesota must afford parents greater opportunities to choose the most fitting school for their child's needs.
By joining this action campaign, you will be letting your legislator know that these provisions are important to you and that you would appreciate their support of them as well.
In the end, it’s in exercising our citizenship in this manner that we demonstrate not only our love for our church and its educational ministries, but also our love for our neighbor and for our society in general that will benefit greatly as parents are once again identified as the primary educator of their children.
I hope you’ll choose to act on this. Time is of the essence, so please communicate with your legislators within the next week.