Alaska business already can take hefty tax credits for donations to colleges and universities. When the Legislature adjourned, it was working on a bill to allow the same tax incentives for gifts to school district- and state-run vocational education.
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For a state that urgently needs more voc ed graduates, particularly in the building trades and blue-collar work force, this funding incentive would be welcome.
House Bill 61, sponsored by one-third of the chamber, passed the House without a single dissenting vote. It stalled in the Senate Finance Committee, but it remains alive for action when the Legislature reconvenes in January.
Businesses could take a credit against their state taxes for half of the first $100,000 donated to a voc ed program each year, with a 100 percent tax credit for the second $100,000. A donation of $200,000 could knock off $150,000 from the tax bill owed to the state. That's a pretty sweet deal for taxpayers, and an attractive offer intended to divert money to voc ed programs.
The measure would also expand the 20-year-old tax credit program for donations to Alaska colleges and universities.
It's true, allowing taxpayers to pick and choose where to send their money could get out of hand. But this is a limited program - taxpayers cannot take credits in excess of half of their tax bill in any one year. A similar approach has helped Alaska's colleges and universities, and could direct much-needed cash into school district voc ed programs. It's a reasonable trade-off to help train young Alaskans.