Cheaper books expected if tax-exemption bill passes

Next fall, the price of textbooks could leave students with extra money in their pockets.A bill was submitted to the Texas Senate that proposes a 10-day period beginning the second Friday of each semester for students to buy textbooks without the sales tax. Senate Bill No. 49 was submitted by Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Texas, and was referred to the Senate Committee on Finance on Jan. 23.

Zaffirini, vice chair of the finance committee and chair of the higher education committee, submitted the bill in response to an action started by the student government at the University of Texas at Austin for tax-free textbooks.

The students at UT also contacted other universities in Texas, including TCU, asking for their support in the campaign for tax-free textbooks.

“Naturally, we jumped right on it,” said Mickey Ley, a sophomore political science major and AddRan House representative. “There was no question that it would benefit every student at TCU.”

Ley and SGA vice president Thomas Pressly wrote the resolution last semester, and SGA voted unanimously in favor of it.

“Mickey and I wrote the resolution to support the movement that the SGA at the University of Texas began,” Pressly said. “We wrote it to support the efforts going on statewide.”

College students spend an average of $900 a year on textbooks, and since 1994, textbook prices have increased 64 percent, according to a report distributed by UT students promoting the bill. Not having to pay the tax on books will save each student between $50 and $100 a year, according to the UT report.

“We must work to ease the financial burden of higher education, so more students can work toward timely graduation with fewer obstacles,” Zaffirini said in a November news release.

The amount each student pays every semester for textbooks may vary, but the prices are definitely increasing overall, Pressly said.

Natalie Ayala, a senior movement science major, said she spends between $300 and $500 a semester on books.

“This bill would make each semester a little bit cheaper for students,” Ayala said.

Fifteen other states already have a tax exemption on textbooks for college students, according to the UT report.

The bill is currently being considered by the Finance Committee. Either no action will be taken, or it will move forward to the House and Senate, where it has to get a majority vote to pass. The governor then has to decide whether to sign the bill or not for it to become a law. If SB 49 is passed this session, it will go into effect July 1.