Arizona Voucher Program Resurrected as Tax-Credit Scholarships

By Christina A. Samuels — June 02, 2009 1 min read
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In March, the Arizona Supreme Court deemed unconstitutional a state program that provided private school vouchers to students with disabilities and students in foster care.

The court said that the program ran counter to the state constitution’s prohibition on spending tax dollars on private education. The state was providing vouchers to 473 students at the time of the decision. They were allowed to finish the school year, but their future enrollment was up in the air.

But the state legislature recently passed a change to the program designed to get around that prohibition.

From a story in the Arizona Republic:

The solution, lawmakers decided, was to expand the state's school-tuition organization program, which grants a dollar-for-dollar credit against a corporation's tax obligation if the business donates to a private-school fund.

The state can’t make direct cash payments to parents, the court determined. This program is different. Certain businesses in the state are allowed to pay into a pool of money used to pay tuition. In return, those businesses get to reduce their state income taxes.

Because that tuition pool isn’t officially state money, backers presumed that it would not face the some legal issues as regular vouchers. (This article explains the idea more fully.)

Gov. Jan Brewer signed the new program into law, and it will go into effect Aug. 25.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.