(COLORADO SPRINGS) – Colorado lawmakers are proposing a $1,000 tax credit for teachers to buy classroom supplies. This law was proposed to hopefully end the practice of teachers spending money out of their own pockets.

According to the National Education Association, over 90% of teachers spend their own money on classroom supplies. The educator expense deduction in Colorado is currently $300 dollars, but it is estimated that educators will spend an average of $820 dollars of their own money on school supplies, and local teachers can attest to that.

Fountain-Fort Carson Second Grade Teacher Shanon Wright said she spends up to $500 of her own money every year, funding her classroom. She says most of it goes to basic school supplies, such as pencils, notebooks, markers, glue, etc.

“They’ll come to us with a couple of things, but not enough to sustain a whole year,” said Wright.

Aside from the basic necessities, Wright also wants her second graders to have an enriched learning experience. She spends money on enhancers to her curriculum, such as art supplies, or cultural foods that relate to the subject she’s teaching.

Colorado lawmakers are now introducing House Bill 23-1208, which would reimburse full-time licensed public school teachers with $1,000 each year to offset the out-of-pocket costs.

“Teachers are creative… We know how to figure things out… But it makes our job a little easier if we have the budget or we have the money to help us… and for a brand new teacher, this would be huge for them,” said Wright.

After 15 years of teaching, Wright is proud of how she has been able to transform her classroom. Wrapped around her room, she has blue LED lights, round circle tables, and a makeshift fireplace nook, that she and her husband built.

“Kids come in my classroom and sit in my cozy corner because I have a little fake fireplace… it’s optional, but when you see the benefit it gives to children, it’s not optional,” said Wright, who paid for almost everything in her classroom, including most of the furniture.

Wright said the $1,000 would help her balance her life.

“The money that I take out of my salary is then taken out of my family’s budget to go do something,” said Wright.

The bill passed 7-4 in the House Education Committee vote in March. Despite this bill having bi-partisan sponsorship, all Republicans in the committee voted against it. Republican opponents include three Colorado Springs Representatives; Rose Pugliese, Donald Wilson, and Mary Bradfield.

Opponents argue that the bill should apply to unlicensed teachers as well as licensed teachers.

Wright agrees, pointing to charter schools, where most unlicensed teachers are largely underpaid. She hopes that this is only a start to addressing the issues of the state’s education system.

“It’s a nice Band-Aid… But there’s a lot more work that needs to be done as far as really enhancing Colorado’s education,” said Wright.

This bill now moves to the House Finance Committee in the coming weeks to determine if the bill is financially workable.