Home Furnishings Direct

Home | Classifieds | Place Ad | Public Notices | Galleries | Kudos | Obits | Real Estate | Subscriber Services | Villager | Amazing Grapes | Yellow Pages | Contact Us
The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : latest news : latest news September 15, 2014


5/29/2009 1:52:00 PM
Lawmakers OK on plan to divert tax dollars for private, parochial schools
Capitol Media Services photo by Howard Fischer
Gov. Jan Brewer signs legislation Friday to provide dollar-for-dollar tax credits to corporations that donate money to help pay the tuition of students with special needs at private and parochial schools. The measure was pushed by Brewer and some Republican lawmakers after the Arizona Supreme Court voided a program of direct vouchers in March.
Capitol Media Services photo by Howard Fischer Gov. Jan Brewer signs legislation Friday to provide dollar-for-dollar tax credits to corporations that donate money to help pay the tuition of students with special needs at private and parochial schools. The measure was pushed by Brewer and some Republican lawmakers after the Arizona Supreme Court voided a program of direct vouchers in March.

Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services


PHOENIX -- State lawmakers gave final approval Wednesday to legislation to create yet another program to divert tax dollars to help some students pay the costs of going to private and parochial schools.

The measure, approved by the House and Senate largely along party lines, is designed to replace a system of direct vouchers that used state tax dollars to directly pay the tuition and fees of about 400 students with special needs who wanted to go somewhere other than public schools. The state Supreme Court ruled in March the vouchers, approved by lawmakers in 2006, violate constitutional provisions that bar direct state aid to private and parochial schools.

This new plan instead relies on donations from corporations and insurance companies to organizations that, in turn, would provide scholarships for those students who lost their vouchers and others with similar handicaps or who had previously been in foster care. But the donations cost the companies nothing: They can claim a dollar-for-dollar credit against what they owe in state income taxes.

At the insistence of Gov. Jan Brewer, who supports the plan, backers of the plan limited the total credits that could be claimed to $5 million a year, the same amount the state was providing in vouchers.

But that is on top of two existing programs that already provide more than $60 million a year in tax credits. And sponsors said they see this new program as just another step to divert dollars that otherwise would wind up in the state treasury to help students opt out of public schools.

"It saves the state money,' said Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills. He said the amount of any scholarships awarded cannot be higher than 90 percent of what the state would pay in aid to a public school for the same student.

Foes, citing the existing tax credits, said this new law just increases the amount of money being siphoned off which could be used for other purposes, including restoring some of the cuts already made this year in funding for public education.

They also questioned the claim of savings, a claim based on the assumption that students getting scholarships to go to private and parochial schools would otherwise be attending public schools.

Sen. Ken Cheuvront, D-Phoenix, unsuccessfully sought to add a provision requiring the state to track the students getting the scholarships to see if they were, in fact, transfers from public schools.

"We should not be afraid of knowledge and afraid of transparency,' he said.

But Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, said the question of saving money is only part of the reason the tax credits make sense. He said scholarship programs empower parents to make choices for their children.

And Kavanagh said providing those choices "injects healthy competition into an educational system that should always be striving to do better.'

But Rep. Eric Meyer, R-Scottsdale, questioned whether lawmakers were more interested in getting students out of public schools than providing better education for all.

"This bill is yet another nail in the coffin of public education,' he said.

Meyer, a member of the board of the Scottsdale Unified School District, said the move to provide expanded tax credits comes on the heels of the Legislature cutting hundreds of millions of dollars in state aid to public schools.

And several Democrats said the whole system of tax credits for scholarships, which they see as indirect state funding of private and parochial schools, lacks the same oversight and accountability as exists for public schools.

Rep. Rick Murphy, R-Glendale, rejected that contention.

"The fact of the matter is, it has the ultimate protection for the students in it already,' he said, with parents searching out the schools they believe are most appropriate for their youngsters and then applying for scholarships to help pay the tuition.

"With public schools, you don't have that most of the time,' Murphy said. "You just land where you land.'

And he said if that private school doesn't provide the education needed "they're going to take their student to someplace that will.'

Republicans rejected various other amendments offered by Democrats, including one by Sen. Debbie McCune Davis, D-Phoenix, which would have required a public report of where students who get the scholarships live. She said she wants to be sure that students statewide are benefiting and not just those from a few select areas.




    Recently Commented     Most Viewed
VVN web sites to modify reader comments protocol Oct. 1 (4 comments)
Letters: Improved access to Verde River does not add up to an improved Verde River (11 comments)
County officials: Jail sales tax is preferable to property tax hike (4 comments)
UPDATE: Court orders Arizona to recognize California-based gay marriage (14 comments)
Arizona lawmakers want greater say in U.S. strategy against ISIS (5 comments)


Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Article comment by: Carl Nye - Jerome

Public tax money cannot be legally used to support religious education, no matter how it is laundered through corporate kickbacks in tax credits or whatever. This point was clearly elaborated by the Arizona Supreme Court in their decision on 25 March in the case of "Cain" vs: Tom Horne that declared the school voucher program unconstitutional. This new state program is yet another attempt to get around the basic restriction as stated in my first sentence. Granted, Arizona has low quality public education. Rather than providing a way for students to "buy out" of that system, all this money and effort should be directed to improving the public system.



Article Comment Submission Form
Comments are not posted immediately. Submissions must adhere to our Use of Service Terms of Use agreement. The email and phone info you provide will not be visible to the public. Rambling or nonsensical comments may not be posted. Comments are limited to 1700 characters or less. In order for us to reasonably manage this feature we may limit your comment entries to five(5) per day.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Required
Last Name:
Required
Telephone:
Required
Email:
Required
Comment:
Required
Passcode:
Required
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.
   


Advanced Search

HSE - Pulse Research
HSE - We want to hear from you
Find more about Weather in Cottonwood, AZ
Click for weather forecast





Submission Links
 •  Submit your feedback about our site

Find It Features Blogs Celebrate Submit Extras Other Publications Local Listings
Classifieds | Place Ad | Galleries | Kudos | Real Estate | Subscriber Services | e-News | RSS | Site Map | Find Verde Jobs | Contact Us
HSE - Washington Post B (perks)

© Copyright 2014 Western News&Info, Inc.® The Verde Independent is the information source for Cottonwood and Verde Valley area communities in Northern Arizona. Original content may not be reprinted or distributed without the written permission of Western News&Info, Inc.® Verde News Online is a service of WNI. By using the Site, verdenews.com ®, you agree to abide and be bound by the Site's terms of use and Privacy Policy, which prohibit commercial use of any information on the Site. Click here to submit your questions, comments or suggestions. Verde News Online is a proud publication of Western News&Info Inc.® All Rights Reserved.

Software © 1998-2014 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved