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Millions of Dollars Don't Make it to Schools

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Bob Berlam
RALEIGH — North Carolina is one of the only states inthe nation to make public schools pay sales tax. After WRAL-TV5 aired astory on schools paying taxes Thursday, the studios were swamped withcalls from people who were surprised at that news. Even Governor Jim Huntsaid he didn't know it was happening. Friday, he told his staff to startexamining the situation.

While that is surprising, some were even more surprised to find out whichstate agencies donothave to pay state sales tax. Rep. FernShubert (R, Union) has introduced a bill to change the schools' status.Her bill lists 21 other government agencies that don't have to pay suchtaxes.

Cities and counties, district health departments and planning commissionsalso do not have to pay the tax. Bob Berlam of the North Carolina SchoolBoard Association says he doesn't know why schools weren't made exemptwith other organizations were.

Berlam says his association has been fighting the system for over 10years on the issue, trying to keep the millions of dollars spentin sales tax in schools.

The list of government agencies that are exempt from state sales taxdoes not include thousands of non-profit groups.

Shubert's bill has moved out of the education committee Thursday and isnow in the hands of the state finance committee.