Friday, January 23, 2009

Two school choice bills in the Arizona House.

So far I haven't seen any bills for this session establishing a dollar-for-dollar use tax credit for parents, legal guardians, or others who directly pay a particular child's tuition fees or any other truly exciting school choice measures, but there are two bills that will expand the current, ersatz system of credits for donations to scholarship-granting school tuition organizatons (STOs).

HB 2287 would require employers to, on employee request, withhold STO contributions from paychecks and accordingly reduce the amount of state tax withheld. This is more convenient by far than saving and contributing a lump sum each year and will likely lead to greater participation in the system.

HB 2288 would allow insurers who make contributions to STOs to claim a similar credit against their premium taxes. More importantly, it would remove the 2011 sunset date for the individual tax credit.

Neither will bring about the program we need to eliminate double payments and thus address the heart of the market failure that keeps private K-12 education out of the reach of so many, but the STO program at least mitigates charity crowd-out and helps to put private education within more families' reach. Consequently both of these bills, especially HB 2288 with its very important elimination of the 2011 sunset, are worthy of your support.

If you will be in the Phoenix area on Monday the 26th and have time to spare around 2 PM, consider testifying on these bills before the Ways and Means committee, especially if you are a private school parent, a prospective private school parent, or an educator.

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