PHOENIX-Arizona's landmark School Tuition Tax Credit program ranked among the top two school choice programs in the nation in a March 15 report card released by the Milton and Rose Friedman Foundation.
Arizona's program gives taxpayers a dollar-for-dollar income tax credit for contributions to organizations that give students scholarships to attend private elementary and secondary schools. The report card judged choice programs on a variety of characteristics, including student eligibility, purchasing power, and school eligibility. The Arizona program's only low grade came in the "program scope" subcategory because of the small amounts taxpayers are allowed to donate ($500 for single filers, $625 for joint filers). These caps limit the availability of scholarships, forcing thousands of students onto scholarship waiting lists.
A December 2003 Goldwater Institute report found that since the program's inception, taxpayers have donated $83.5 million to 47 nonprofit scholarship organizations, helping send thousands of students to schools of their choice. Most scholarships were distributed based on financial need, and more than 19,000 Arizona students currently use the scholarships.
Late yesterday, the Arizona House of Representatives approved a measure that would expand the scholarship program and allow corporations to donate, giving even more needy students the opportunity attend the schools that will best help them achieve their academic goals.
"This program has broadened the educational horizons for thousands of Arizona's neediest students," said Goldwater Institute education analyst Vicki Murray. "Expanding the potential donor pool will broaden those horizons even more."
The report card Grading Vouchers: Ranking America's School Choice Programs, by Robert C. Enlow, is online at http://www.friedmanfoundation.org/resources/rankings.pdf. The Goldwater Institute study is available online. A second Goldwater Institute study examining the need for expansion of the school tuition tax credit is available.
Contact: Vicki Murray, Education Analyst, (602) 462-5000