Textbook tax-break could become reality

Good news may be on the horizon for Sam Houston State University students who dig deep into their pockets for textbooks each semester. A local state represetative, Dan Ellis, of Livingston, has signed in as a joint author of a new bill which could exempt college textbooks from the 8.25 percent local sales tax.”This bill is meant to help ensure that more students attend and finish their higher education by helping reduce the cost of college to them and their working families,” said Ellis.Ellis said while meeting with SHSU President Bobby Marks the the idea of making textbooks exempt was discussed.Marks said he was concerned by how expensive textbooks are for students as he sees many students struggling financially to stay in school. Marks also said he feels it is very important to help these students in any way possible.”We exempt many items in the state of Texas and I feel the exempting textbooks is as good as an exemption as any,” Marks said. “I believe that this bill is a good investment for our future because anything we can do to help our students continue their education will help them become more productive and financially viable citizens, and therefore is a good investment for the state.”With direct state support of public colleges and universities falling from 56.9 percent of revenues in 1993 to 49.7 percent in 1998, tuition and fees have been increasing from an average of $1,744 for a 30-hour annual class load in 1993 to $2,935 in 1998, accounting for inflation.Sue Slater, manager of Bearkat Books, said while the average college student will spend between $250 and $300 on textbooks each semester, the cost can get as high as $750. The tax exemption could therefore save college students and their families between $20 and $60 each semester.”Bookstore people have been asking the legislature to allow textbooks to be tax exempt for some time now,” Slater said. “This is a very good idea. In some cases, this would make the difference of a student being able to buy another book that they may have had to do without.”

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