On April 6, the Arizona State Legislature passed an expansion of its Empowerment Scholarship Program (ESA), allowing more students to have access to school choice. It is estimated 5,500 more students each year will be able to join the program and a maximum of 30,000 will be participating by 2022. Senate Bill 1431 provides an innovative way to bring school choice to parents and K–12 education.
ESAs give parents the ability to choose the best school, programs, and courses to fit their child’s needs. Lennie Jarratt, project manager for the Center for Transforming Education at The Heartland Institute, praises Arizona legislators for passing bill. “Education should be about stoking the passions of students to learn, not about what building students attend,” Jarratt said. “Arizona understands this and continues to lead the nation in education reform as a result. Every state should follow Arizona in allowing students to find the education they need to excel.”
Heartland Policy Analyst Tim Benson says the ESA program expansion will help kids across the state. “When parents are given the opportunity to choose, every school must compete and improve, so even the children who are not taking part in the program will reap its benefits,” Benson said. “I hope Arizona’s example will provide the necessary motivation for legislators in other states contemplating their own education choice bills to do what is right for their state’s children.”
Legislators in New Hampshire also recently took another step toward providing greater education freedom. Currently, the state has one school choice program, a tax-credit scholarship program for low-income families to use for private and homeschooling expenses. A new bill would establish the Education Freedom Savings Accounts program in the state, allowing parents of public school and homeschool students to access their child’s state public education funding.
Teresa Mull, managing editor of School Reform News and an education research fellow for The Heartland Institute, recently interviewed Jody Underwood, an education fellow at the New Hampshire-based Granite Institute, who says ESA programs will solve some of the educational challenges New Hampshire faces, especially those issues related to access in rural parts of the state. “ESAs would allow parents even in the grades we do have in our town—we only have K–4—to choose to send their kids to a private school using ESAs and get the state to pay some of it. It would help,” Underwood said.
States across the country should follow Arizona’s lead and work toward providing parents and students with greater educational freedom, a proven strategy for success.
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Budget & Tax
Research & Commentary: Washington State Vaping Tax Is a Bad Idea
In this Research & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans examines two tax proposals in Washington State to expand the state’s tobacco tax to vaping products. “Targeted taxes such as those on vapor products disproportionately harm low-income taxpayers, punish local businesses, and deter smokers from quitting more harmful combustible cigarettes,” wrote Glans. Read more
Research & Commentary: New Right-to-Shop Health Care Model Could Empower Consumers
In this Research & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans examines a Right-to-Shop proposal in Maine that could dramatically change how patients search for health care services. “While Right to Shop is not a silver bullet and attention does need to be given to the cost of implementation, Right to Shop takes several positive steps toward encouraging active price shopping and competition. It deserves serious consideration from lawmakers across the country,” Glans wrote. Read more
Energy & Environment
Research & Commentary: Thanks to Mitigation Measures, Induced Seismicity Risks Dropping Quickly
In this Research & Commentary, Policy Analyst Timothy Benson summarizes research showing how the risk of earthquakes related to hydraulic fracturing has dropped significantly. “The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released a report projecting potential induced seismicity (man-caused earthquakes) across the United States in 2017 and found the number of people living in an area of “significant” risk (1–12 percent chance) decreased by 50 percent from 2016, shrinking from seven million to 3.5 million people,” wrote Benson. Read more
Research & Commentary: Extending Employer-Provided Education Assistance to Student Loans Is a Win-Win
In this Research & Commentary, Government Relations Coordinator Lindsey Stroud examines legislation in Congress that would extend employer-provided education assistance to student loans. Stroud says the legislation would benefit employers and student loan debtors. “Employer-provided education assistance can help lessen the costs of government aid and offset the costs of rising tuition. More importantly, such policies do not burden taxpayers; they allow companies to help pay off student loan debt using free-market principles,” wrote Stroud. Read more
From Our Free-Market Friends
Texas Public Policy Foundation: Congress Should Follow Texas’ Lead in Ending Business Taxes
In a new article by Vance Ginn for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Ginn argues Texas should end the state’s “margins tax.” “The margins tax forces businesses to calculate their tax liability from the product of the lowest of four tax bases dependent on their gross revenue, hence the term ‘margins tax,’ and two tax rates.” Ginn says ending the margins tax would help all Texans and serve as a model the federal government should adopt. “The evidence is clear: Texans are poorer every day that the margins tax exists. Eliminating it as quickly as possible … would enhance Texas’ prosperity. This leadership in Texas, where almost one-third of jobs have been created since December 2007, should encourage Congress to control government spending and end the federal corporate income tax,” wrote Ginn. Read more