The smell of a freshly-sharpened No. 2 pencil certainly has its place in heralding the start of a new school year, but for over a decade, perhaps nothing has done more to signal impending classroom hours than the Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday.
Sen. Rodney Ellis, the Texas legislator responsible for passing Senate Bill 441 in 1999, joined Rep. Alma Allen (Ellis' third grade teacher), Rep. Ron Reynolds and children from the Chinese Community Center's Youth Empowerment and Pooh's Panda Special Needs Academy to kick off the annual weekend of shopping madness during a press conference at Macy's Downtown earlier this week.
"It really is, in a lot of ways, like Christmas in August," Ellis said.
Ellis touted the effectiveness of the measure in keepin money in parents' pockets — shoppers have saved nearly $600 million since its introduction in 1999 — and detailed how he has had to fight tooth-and-nail to keep the cost-saving measure on the books in the years since. The Texas state senator has even suggested the elimination of loopholes for corporations to help pay for the holiday.
Although Ellis acknowledged that there's room for more on the list of tax-free items, especially since electronics now have as much relevance in the classroom as Crayolas, computers aren't expected to be added to the list any time soon.
"I think it will be a very difficult case to make during these tough economic times in terms of the state's budget," Ellis admitted.
So although shoppers won't be able to purchase a new laptop (or any items more than $100) with the tax-free credit, Macy's and other participating stores have priced back-to-school items at marked-down prices.
"It really is, in a lot of ways, like Christmas in August," said Ellis.
The Sales Tax Holiday will last from Friday through Sunday. Find a list of qualifying clothing, footwear, school supplies and accessories here.