In an attempt to save college students some money, a pair of central Ohio representatives are introducing a bill that would exempt textbooks from sales tax.

In an attempt to save college students some money, a pair of central Ohio representatives are introducing a bill that would exempt textbooks from sales tax.

State Rep. Mike Duffey (R-Worthington), the House Higher Education Subcommittee chairman, and state Rep. Michael Stinziano (D-Columbus) are introducing the bill together. Duffey said that while it won't fix the rising cost of higher education, it could make a difference.

"Generally speaking, I think a lot of people are for it," he said. "Occasionally, we'll get a comment from somebody -- and I think it has to do with the general cynicism that exists about higher education right now among parents and students -- where they say, 'That's not going to solve the problem.' I understand that, but the books shouldn't be so expensive in the first place."

Duffey pointed to NBC's review of Bureau of Labor Statistics data that showed textbook prices have risen at more than three times the rate of inflation since 1977.

Those costs, he said, should be considered as part of tuition costs.

"The reality is that we do not tax tuition," he said. "Books are not separable from tuition. You register for a class and you have to have the book to take the class. It's not optional, it's a requirement. So it's part and parcel of the education. Saying you're taxing it is like taxing tuition, in my mind, and it doesn't make sense."

Duffey said he and Stinziano are pleased to be working on the bipartisan legislation together. He credits Stinziano with the concept, and thinks the bill will have support from all sides.

"He and I have worked together since we entered the general assembly together," Duffey said. "He's just a good guy. He's got a great head on his shoulders and he's respected in the Republican caucus ... so (his party affiliation) doesn't even occur to me.

"I like to work with people in the other caucus because I think the diplomatic way of getting legislation done is better than the ramming it down your throat way of getting it done. This is his idea initially. ... I just want to give him support."

Duffey said that with modern point-of-sale operating systems and other equipment, implementing the new rule wouldn't be difficult.

He said the timeline depends on leadership in the caucuses, but in his experience it "would not be unrealistic" to see it out of the House by Christmas and on the governor's desk by summer 2016.

Ohio is one of 23 states that still tax textbooks, and Duffey said it simply isn't right.

"If you already have unreasonable escalation in the base price, you're just adding insult to injury when you add tax to that inflation rate," he said.