(May 2) – A bill by Reps. Brittany Pettersen and Barbara McLachlan to help middle-class Coloradans save for college and to help recruit rural teachers passed the House this morning with a 40-25 vote.

“This bill tackles two of Colorado’s biggest problems—improving college affordability for the middle class and attracting teachers to rural schools—in one fiscally friendly package,” said Rep. Pettersen, D-Lakewood. “With this bill, we’re giving needed support to families in the donut hole—those who make a little too much to qualify for financial aid, but not enough to afford college.”

“In rural areas across the state, schools are struggling to recruit teachers, and part of the issue is that it’s tough for teachers to pay off student loans,” said Rep. McLachlan, D-Durango. “This bill creates a tax credit that increases each year for five years to encourage teachers to come work in rural Colorado and build their careers here.”

HB17-1324 creates a sliding scale for the state’s CollegeInvest Fund, which was designed to encourage middle-class families to save for college. The bill changes the credit to provide more benefit for families who make less than $100,000 annually.

The second part of the bill uses the funding saved from this change to provide a tax credit to rural teachers. The credit starts at $1,000 for the first year a teacher works in a rural district and increases each year, up to $5,000 for the fifth year. It also creates a one-time $2,500 tax credit for student teachers in rural districts.

The bill now proceeds to the Senate.

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