Education A State Capitals Roundup

Compromise on Arizona Budget Drops Voucher Plan

By Caroline Hendrie — May 10, 2005 1 min read

The Arizona legislature approved a compromise budget late last week that includes a new corporate tax credit for private school tuition aid, but leaves out a voucher initiative that the governor had vowed to veto.

Gov. Janet Napolitano and legislative leaders reached a deal on the $8.2 billion spending package for fiscal 2006 after a week of fast-paced negotiations that focused heavily on the two sides’ competing education priorities. According to the governor’s office, legislators approved the budget in the wee hours of May 6.

The deal followed months of strife over school choice plans favored by the Republican-controlled legislature but opposed by the Democratic governor. (“Ariz. Battle Over Choice Heats Up as Republicans Revise Voucher Strategy,” April 6, 2005.)

Under the budget bill, which the governor is expected to sign, Ms. Napolitano would win the expansion of a program that pays for full-day kindergarten in public schools with large numbers of needy children.

And while not attaining their aim of starting a statewide voucher program, GOP leaders would get the corporate tax credit, enabling them to chalk up a win on the school choice front.

Arizona gives income-tax credits to individuals who donate to organizations that provide tuition scholarships to families to help pay for tuition at private religious or secular schools. The budget would extended that benefit to corporations.

Businesses could receive credits of up to $5,000 annually, with the statewide amount capped at $5 million for the first three years, the governor’s office said.

Those figures are half the amounts called for in legislation passed by the House and Senate earlier last week that the governor promised to veto because it included a plan for vouchers worth up to $3,500 for low-income families to pay for private secular or religious schools.

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