Parents who send their children to private and parochial schools would get an income tax deduction of up to $5,000 under a bill that cleared a House panel Monday morning.

The House Ways and Means committee voted 10-3 to advance the Senate-passed legislation which would allow parents to deduct up to $5,000 of tuition costs paid per child.

For instance, if tuition costs for a child came to $10,000 a year, only $5,000 of it would be tax deductible.

The break would take effect Jan. 1.

The Legislative Fiscal Office estimates the increased tax deduction would cost the state at least $5.3 million annually.

Under existing law, parents can take off 50 percent of tuition costs up to $5,000 per child.

Senate Bill 13 sponsored by state Sen. Rob Marionneaux, D-Grosse Tete, would remove the 50 percent cap.

In 2009, parents claimed the tuition deduction for 76,900 children, the first year the deduction was offered.

The average deduction was $3,186 per child.

The Louisiana Family Forum endorsed the measure.

Opposition came from the Louisiana School Boards Association, the Louisiana Federation of Teachers and the Louisiana Association of Educators.

LFT President Steve Monaghan said the expansion of the tax deduction is coming at the same time public schools will be furloughing teachers and increasing class sizes.

“It’s the wrong message to send to the teachers in the classroom right now suffering through some difficult times,” Monaghan said.

“This one (tax exemption) hits hard because of where it hits and when it hits,” he added.

Gary Reed, of the Louisiana School Boards Association, said the legislation takes away revenue that could be used to fund public schools.

Marionneaux said the state has $7.1 billion in tax breaks, most of which benefit business.

“It’s a miniscule amount but important to parents who struggle to send their child to the best school possible. … who struggle day in and day out to do the best they can for their children,” Marionneaux said.

The bill moves to the full House for final legislative passage.