When West Hartford teacher and local Association president Theresa McKeown heard that the Republican tax plan would eliminate the popular educator expense deduction she wanted to find out what this would mean for her colleagues.
Most teachers told her they spend $500 to $1,000 annually out-of-pocket on supplies for their classrooms—considerably above the $250 the federal government currently allows teachers to deduct from their taxes.
And what do teachers spend that money on? The list McKeown compiled is long and includes winter coats, hats, mittens, boots, calculators, binders, magazine subscriptions, snacks for students who have none, and meals to send home with students over the weekend.
“We love our students, we love what we do,” McKeown told reporters at a press conference organized by Senator Richard Blumenthal this morning. “I’m very disappointed in the Republican tax plan.”
“The money we spend benefits our community,” said teacher and State Rep. Joshua Hall. “This deduction recognizes that and shouldn’t be eliminated.”
Blumenthal said teachers should be thanked, and instead the tax plan unfairly penalizes them. “Right now teachers spend hundreds of dollars on school supplies—pencils, books, instructional materials—out of their own pockets. They do it because they love their students and they’re dedicated to education.”
The deduction should be increased, not eliminated, Blumenthal said. “Every dollar matters to teachers, but there’s also a symbolic issue here too. The message from eliminating this deduction is, ‘We don’t care about public educators or public education,’ and that fits with the mantra of this administration.”
In addition to the educator expense deduction, Blumenthal said that the GOP tax plan eliminates many tax deductions that currently benefit the middle class.
“I will fight for this deduction,” Blumenthal said. “I know our congressional delegation is committed to fighting for many of these deductions.”
Watch excerpts from the news conference below.