Suit Filed to Halt Arizona Tuition Tax Credit Program

Published November 1, 1997

Although Arizona’s innovative school tuition tax credit program will not go into effect until January 1, 1998, a pre-emptive move by the Arizona Education Association seeks to abort the nascent program before it comes into being. On September 30, the state teachers’ union filed suit to quash the measure. In response, the Washington, DC-based Institute for Justice immediately announced that it will intervene on behalf of Arizona parents, children, and taxpayers to preserve the program.

“This is a standard act of desperation by state affiliates of the National Education Association–an organization bent on destroying any and all meaningful school reform,” declared Clint Bolick, the Institute’s director of litigation. “Just as NEA affiliates in Wisconsin and Ohio teamed up in court with liberal organizations to preserve their monopoly over education, the Arizona Education Association is following suit.”

The Arizona school choice measure, passed earlier this year, provides a tax credit of up to $500 to individuals who donate money to scholarship organizations that direct the funds to needy students. (See “Choice Scores Major Triumph in Arizona,” School Reform News, May 1997.) The program builds on the success of private scholarship programs by encouraging donations to new scholarship funds.

“This lawsuit is an outrageous assault on desperately needed educational opportunities for low-income children,” said Bolick, “We’re not surprised the Arizona Education Association is taking these steps to protect its monopoly stranglehold over public education.”

In early October, the Institute filed papers in court on behalf of economically disadvantaged families who would benefit from the scholarship programs, as well as Arizona taxpayers who plan to contribute to those programs. The Institute is currently defending similar educational opportunities in Wisconsin, Ohio, Vermont, and Maine. (See for example, “School Choice Goes on the Offensive in Maine,” School Reform News, October 1997.)