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Whitmer Proposes Suspending Sales Tax on School Supplies


August 16, 2022 



Gov. Whitmer Proposes Suspending Sales Tax on School Supplies

Proposal is part of the MI Back to School Plan to lower costs for families, building on historic education budget with the highest state per-student funding in Michigan history to invest in every classroom

LANSING, Mich. – Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer proposed suspending the Michigan sales tax on school supplies, part of her MI Back to School Plan to help families get ready for the upcoming school year by lowering costs and building on the historic, bipartisan education budget she signed in July. The plan will save Michigan families money right now, help educators save on classroom expenses, and equip kids with the tools they need to succeed, including everything from paper and pencils to crayons and computers.

“As families gear up for the school year, they should be able to get what they need without spending too much money out of pocket,” said Governor Whitmer. “That’s why I’m putting forward the MI Back to School Plan, which includes a proposal to temporarily suspend the sales tax on school supplies. Getting this done would lower costs for parents, teachers, and students right now, and ensure that they have the resources to succeed. I will work with anyone to lower costs, cut taxes, and help our kids thrive. Last month, I signed a bipartisan education budget—my fourth—which made the highest state per-student funding in Michigan history. We should build on this progress as we get ready for the next school year by enacting the MI Back to School Plan.”

“I spend about $500 out-of-pocket a year on supplies for my classroom, and that’s a big challenge for me as an early-career teacher with low wages,” said Alex Bohr, a fourth-grade teacher at Gull Lake Community Schools. “On top of school supplies, many of us also buy snacks for students whose families aren’t able to send snacks from home, so the kids can have something to eat during the day outside of lunch. All of these costs accumulate and can become a substantial financial burden, both for educators and parents. Gov. Whitmer’s proposal for a school sales tax holiday will help educators and families keep a little extra money in our wallets, so we can afford other basic necessities.”

“With the continued rising cost of just about everything needed to supply a classroom; teachers like myself are having to resort to creating wishlists on Amazon and sharing them on social media like Tik Tok, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, in the hopes that some companies will help “#CLEARTHELIST”, said Stephanie Klein, Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) Director and lead co-teacher in the Menominee County Intermediate School District. “A “teacher tax holiday” would help take a little pressure off the pocketbooks of so many educators.  School districts can only provide so much money for budgeted supplies and the extras are usually put on the back burner to wait and see if there is extra money left over.  Usually, teachers end up funding the extras themselves, but I would rather that than have my students not flourish!  #TEACHERSAREPOWERFUL.”

“I am extremely grateful to Governor Whitmer for her leadership to help our kids succeed in the classroom,” said Kristen Bruley, parent in Allen Park. “I’m a mom of two kid and elementary school students, and back to school costs add up when you’re raising them on one income. A tax suspension would help keep costs down and help parents get their kids more of what they need.”

“With this sales tax holiday, tax savings for an average family would probably be around $54.00 per child,” said Louis Zemlick, President & Owner of Zemlick’s—a 45-year-old office and school supplies store headquartered in Kalamazoo serving all of southwest Michigan. “This is a big help to Michigan families and small business.” 

“Educators and parents spend hundreds upon hundreds of dollars every year on school supplies like books, pencils and tech devices, and these expenses can really add up and cause significant financial strain for Michigan families,” said MEA President Paula Herbart, a veteran educator from Macomb County. “We strongly support Gov. Whitmer’s proposal to enact a school sales tax holiday, and we urge lawmakers to work swiftly with the governor and provide this critical relief for Michigan parents and educators.”

“As one of Michigan’s largest retailers, we applaud Governor Whitmer’s efforts to lower costs for Michigan’s families,” said Rachel Hurst, head of Midwest Region of Corporate Affairs for Kroger. “We stand ready to implement the sales tax holiday as soon as it is passed by the state’s legislature.”

Background on Back to School Sales Tax Holiday

With prices rising on everyday items, a Deloitte report found that parents and families expect to spend up to $661 per child on school supplies this year, as opposed to $612 per child last year. To provide relief, 19 other states are suspending state sales taxes on everything from clothing and shoes to backpacks and computers to lower costs for families and help educators outfit their classrooms for the year. Under the governor’s plan, Michigan would join those states to deliver savings for parents as they prepare to send their children back to school.

Cutting Taxes, Lowering Costs, Money in Pockets

Governor Whitmer proposed rolling back the retirement tax on our seniors, putting an average of $1,000 back in the pockets of half a million Michiganders who worked hard and played by the rules. She also proposed tripling the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit, which would put a combined $3,000 tax refund in the pockets of 730,000 working families. In addition, Governor Whitmer signed bipartisan legislation repealing the tampon tax and cut personal property taxes for small business owners.

To save drivers money at the pump, Governor Whitmer has called for a temporary pause on the state and federal sales tax on fuel. A short-term pause is a fiscally-responsible action we can take that will provide drivers relief at the pump right now – not next year – while also protecting funding for road repairs and saving tens of thousands of good-paying construction jobs.

Governor Whitmer also called for sending $500 inflation relief rebate checks to working families as they face rising prices on everyday expenses. Getting this done would put money in their pockets and help them pay the bills and put food on the table.

Governor Whitmer’s Bipartisan Education Budget Investments

Governor Whitmer’s recently signed bipartisan education budget focuses on six key sections: students, mental health, learning supports, student safety, school infrastructure, and teacher recruitment.

1) Students

For our students, the highest state per-pupil funding in Michigan history—$9,150 for every kid, in every public school district. Additional support for the nearly 200,000 special education students and 710,000 at-risk students in Michigan. Expanding funding for career and technical education programs by 27%.

2) Mental Health

Dedicated mental health dollars for every student in every school. Increasing funding for teen centers, district mental health grants, and TRAILS, which offers training to school mental health professionals so they can better serve students with evidence-based services.

3) Teacher Recruitment

Funding MI Future Educator Fellowships, which pay up to $10,000 in tuition for 2,500 future Michigan educators a year, $9,600 stipends a semester for student teachers, and Grow-Your-Own programs that help districts put support staff on no-cost paths to become educators.

4) School Infrastructure

$250 million for school construction and renovations, helping them build or refurbish classrooms, labs, and libraries.

5) Learning Supports

An expansion of before and after-school programs to keep kids engaged. The budget offers every kid in Michigan tutoring to help catch up and get on track for long-term success, and resources for districts to develop learning pods for academically at-risk and economically disadvantaged students.

6) Student Safety

Dedicated school safety dollars for every student in every school. Funds to hire more on-campus school resources officers, create an intervention system for at-risk students that brings together law enforcement, schools, and mental health professionals, and establish a school safety commission.

Governor Whitmer’s Education Investments

For four years in a row, Governor Whitmer has worked across the aisle to make the largest education investments in Michigan history—without raising taxes. Since taking office, the governor has tripled the number of literacy coaches and last year, closed the funding gap between schools, boosted state per-student investment to an all-time high, and helped districts hire thousands of teachers on-campus mental health professionals.

The Whitmer-Gilchrist Administration’s education accomplishments can be found here.