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Donations to Minnesota’s many charities have historically been treated the same for tax break purposes. House Republicans’ “most favored donation” proposal would end that long tradition, leaving our public schools and diverse nonprofits the poorer for it.

Under the Republican tax bill, individual and corporate donations to private schools would earn a special 70 percent tax credit that would be worth more in tax breaks than the same amount of donations to churches, youth groups, public school PTAs, the Cancer Society, United Way or any other nonprofit.

The “most favored donations” would fund private and religious school scholarship vouchers, but the program lacks accountability. Schools receiving them aren’t required to accept all applicants, provide special education, offer enough aid so poor kids can attend or even report standardized test results so parents can evaluate school performance.

With a $1.5 billion surplus, Republicans are choosing to not fund public schools at even the rate of inflation. Dedicating state funds to private/religious school tax breaks diverts needed state funds from our public schools.

Local programs, charities serving the poor, churches and other nonprofits will also see diversions and reductions due to this proposal.

This “most favored donation” proposal would leave our communities poorer in both education and community services. Rejecting this and the proposed $161 million in new tax cuts for multimillion-dollar estates could give public schools the inflation funding they deserve.

Diane Loeffler, DFL-Minneapolis, is a member of the Minnesota House.