Republicans in the U.S. House, including Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, have just given teachers across the country a good reason to support their political opponents.
If there’s an explanation for how the Republicans plan to make up for the tax deduction they just took away from teachers who spend their own money on school supplies, let’s hear it.
The amount of savings the lawmakers can capture by dropping this deduction is just a blip in the overall scheme of things — an estimated $210 million to help pay for $1.5 trillion in tax cuts to corporations and individuals.
But it’s an affront to teachers, who are justifiably angry.
The deduction was part of the tax cut plan House Republicans passed Thursday. It reimburses teachers up to $250 when they use their own money to pay for school supplies.
That deduction is really just a down payment on the actual out-of-pocket expenses.
The Texas State Teachers Association found the average teacher in this state spent $656 last year for art supplies, markers, books and other supplies the districts and parents don’t provide.
While the deduction doesn’t cover everything, the executive director for the largest group of school employees in the Fort Worth ISD says it’s important, “symbolic” recognition by lawmakers that demonstrates their support.
Steven Poole, with the United Educators Association, says teachers have contacted Granger’s office, asking her to oppose the elimination of the school supplies deduction.
Granger, a former high school English teacher, declined the Star-Telegram’s request for an interview earlier this week. She instead issued a statement saying the average American’s tax break under the GOP’s tax plan will more than offset the loss of the deduction.
Tuesday Granger tweeted: “I am committed to ensuring that teachers have the resources they need to make sure our children are prepared to be the leaders, innovators, & job creators of tomorrow.”
We’d like to hear the details behind that tweet. Or is it empty political rhetoric?
Granger needs to tell all of us how she plans to make up for what she’s voted to take away. If you support teachers and want to cut taxes, you can find another way to make the math work.
We say that because the Senate’s tax plan actually calls for doubling the teacher supply deduction to $500.
Around the country teachers’ groups are mobilizing to publicly shame some of the lawmakers who voted for the plan which drops the meager assistance.
In Overland Park, Kansas, a teachers group is planning to stage a school supply drive outside the offices of Rep. Kevin Yoder, a Republican who voted for the tax bill and is running for reelection.
The National Education Association is asking teachers to use the hashtag #outofmypocket, and share pictures of the school supplies they’ve purchased on social media.
Poole says teachers here have had a pretty good relationship with Granger. So, they’re waiting to hear the former educator’s alternative plan for assistance.
So are we.