NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Arizona Court Rules For School Choice Supporters

January 28, 1999

Arizona's Supreme Court has upheld a tax credit for individuals who give donations to groups that give private-school scholarships to children. This was the second major victory for the school choice movement in three months. The U.S. Supreme Court in November refused to hear a legal challenge to Wisconsin's eight-year-old voucher program.

  • The Arizona Court said opponents failed to demonstrate that the tax credit violated either the U.S. Constitution's prohibition on government involvement in religion or the Arizona constitution's ban on public money being used for churches or private schools.
  • Under a 1997 law, taxpayers can reduce their bottom-line state income tax by up to $500 for donations to groups that give scholarships to students attending private schools -- whether the schools are religious or not.
  • However, the Arizona court's ruling said it considered only the credit's constitutionality and left policy issues up to the state's legislature to consider.

The president of the Arizona Education Association -- a 30,000 member school employees union -- called the tax credit "a divisive and diversionary issue" and said she was "disappointed" at the court's decision. But Steve Goss, board chairman of the Arizona Scholarship Fund described himself as "doing backflips" over the court's "great" decision.

Source: Associated Press, "A 'New Day' for Arizona's Scholarship Tax Credit," USA Today, January 28, 1999.


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