TOPEKA—The House and Senate last week passed Bill 2218, which provides credits for graduates of the aerospace and aviation-related educational programs from any school in Kansas and their employers.

This tax credit would allow those who qualify to reap a 50 percent return on tuition from their schooling if they enter the aerospace field, meaning graduates would be allowed a benefit against the taxpayer’s income tax liability. The bill will be put into effect after Dec. 31. The bill is designed to encourage students and teachers to enter into aerospace and aviation-related field and stay by allowing them to save money on their student loans.  ​

After the bill was introduced, the House struggled to determine which committee the bill should be passed onto as the bill directly affects students as well as the aerospace field. The bill was referred to the Committee on Commerce, Labor and Economic Development which began amend the proposal including striking the definition of compensation from the bill, which declared the tax exemption would not base itself on how much someone made when they got into the field.

The committee also said the schools must be accredited by regional sources instead of national. Regional accreditations are more easily transferrable and there are six bodies in the nation covering each region that can qualify a school or educational program.

When the bill was adjusted, it was sent to the Committee on the Whole. Rep. Carpenter (R-Derby) was then questioned on whether the amendments made to the bill were relevant. The changes were deemed appropriate but when Rep. Tim Hodge (D-North Newton) suggested raising the amount being given back to the aerospace employers, his amendment was rejected. Rep. Jason Probst (D-Hutchinson) the reviewed the bill and suggested the committee only provide these benefits to full-time employees/employers and his amendment was passed. Then Rep. John Alcala (D-Topeka) tried to amend the bill so that those applying for the break must prove their eligibility status through a specific loan program. This change was ultimately denied and the bill was moved forward.

After these many amendments, fewer restrictions were placed on those who could qualify for the tax break, and those qualified may apply each year for up to four years as long as they work in their field of study. The bill passed March 26 and was sent to the Senate, where it was passed unanimously.

Samantha Gilstrap is a University of Kansas senior from Charlotte, North Carolina, majoring in journalism.

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