News in Brief: A Washington Roundup

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Treasury Tax Credits To Aid Charter Schools

More than $300 million of the $3.5 billion in federal tax breaks that the Department of the Treasury has allocated for investments in low-income communities has gone to groups that help finance facilities for charter schools.

In the second round of its New Markets Tax Credit Program, announced this month, the department allocated credits to 62 investment vehicles known as "community-development entities," four of which finance charter schools in low-income areas.

Individuals or corporations can claim credits against their federal income taxes for a portion of the capital they put into the entities, enabling borrowers such as charter schools or health clinics to get better financing deals.

In the tax-credit allocations announced by the Treasury Department on May 6, Charter Facilities Funding LLC, based in Phoenix, received $50 million; ESIC New Markets Partners LP, based in Columbia, Md., $140 million; the Washington-based NCB Development Corp., $75 million; and the Reinvestment Fund Inc., based in Philadelphia, $38.5 million.

A Treasury Department spokeswoman said last week that all four recipients will use some or all of their tax-credit allocations to finance charter schools, which often struggle to secure affordable facilities.

—Caroline Hendrie

House Panel Reauthorizes Assistive-Technology Program

A program that helps pay for new technology to support students with disabilities is a step closer to renewal after passing a House committee last week.

A bill reauthorizing the assistive-technology state-grant program unanimously passed the House Education and the Workforce committee by a voice vote on May 19. The program, established in 1988, gives states money to provide items such as wheelchairs, communication devices, and computer hardware that help students and adults with disabilities.

Though the 10-year-program authorization has expired, states have continued to receive the grants. The bill reauthorizing the program, sponsored by Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif, would preserve the state grants, but would require states to spend most of the money on direct aid to individuals. The reauthorization would change the primary purpose of the program from setting up systems to help those with disabilities to helping those who need assistance directly.

—Michelle R. Davis

Vol. 23, Issue 38, Page 23

Published in Print: May 26, 2004, as News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
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