Marcy, NY (WIBX) - Congressman Richard Hanna, (R-NY22) unveiled a new measure that promises to increase the number of students graduating with STEM degrees. He explained his proposal at SUNYIT this afternoon, saying he's applying a simple solution to a big problem. "It is a formal acknowledgment--it's a stake in the ground and a conversation that we need to have in Congress about how we are going to keep this country competitive again, and how we are going to build American jobs again, and how we are going to rebuild the middle class again," he said.

Introducing The STEM Education Opportunity Act, Hanna says the bill will provide financial assistance through a special tax credit to qualified individuals pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, as well as Medical degrees. "We are falling behind globally in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, and if we are to rebuild the middle class and create citizens that are making--and incidentally, they make double what most people do in other industries, if you're in STEM--those people become taxpayers. It regrows the middle class, it breaks education as it always has--breaks that cycle that we're all so aware of, and it also helps people pay for STEM careers through the tax code," he said.

If passed, the measure will allow parents, or students enrolled in STEM classes, to deduct the cost of their education from their annual federal tax liability. The bill currently has no co-sponsors but Hanna says he's reaching out for support from both sides of the isle. He says Congressman Steve Israel (D-NY2) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) are reviewing the bill to consider co-sponsoring it.

Highlights of the bill:

  • Provides federal tax deduction equal to a student's STEM higher education expenses. This tax incentive would be offered for an initial 10-year period following enactment.
  • Tax deductions/expenses may be claimed in the same taxable year, or can be "carried forward" until the taxpayers's allowable deduction exceeds their taxable income level.
  • Benefits cannot be claimed in coordination with other education tax incentives, or scholarships to uphold the principle of no "double benefit."
  • Allows for businesses and individuals to receive a tax credit equal to their donation of STEM materials, (computers, lab equipment, microscopes, internships, training, etc.) to elementary and secondary schools.