HELENA, Mont. (AP) – Public-school advocates are arguing that a state agency rightly determined the Montana Constitution prohibits private religious schools from a new scholarship tax credit program.

But private-school supporters say the Department of Revenue overstepped by excluding religious schools in proposed rules for the program that begins Jan. 1.

The department held a public hearing Thursday on the proposed rules that will allow tax credits for donations of up to $150 to scholarships to private schools.

Nine people, including legislators and representatives of religious organizations and schools, spoke against the proposed rules.

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They say the Legislature intended the tax credit to benefit all students.

Five people, most representing teachers’ unions and public school associations, supported the rules. They said the law states it must be administered in accordance with constitutional provisions that prohibit direct or indirect appropriations to sectarian schools.


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