Monday, May 24, 2010

Arizona's STO/Tax Credit Law Headed To The Supreme Court

It might surprise some observers that Arizona's school tuition tax credit law made it to the Supreme Court before Arizona's police-state anti-immigrant law, but the STO law has been around for better than a decade while the immigration law has been on the books for less than a month.

From Education Week -
The U.S. Supreme Court today agreed to weigh the constitutionality of a 13-year-old Arizona program offering tax credits for donations made to organizations that provide scholarships for children to attend private schools.

A federal appeals court ruled last year that Arizona's tax credit program impermissibly advances religion in violation of the First Amendment's prohibition against any government establishment of religion. It found that the majority of those scholarships go to students attending religious schools, and that some of the "school tuition organizations," or STOs, restrict their scholarships to that purpose.

The STO law has been the subject of scrutiny in recent months, as two competing legislative committees held hearings on the law.

One, chaired by State Rep. David Schapira, heard testimony from people like NAU professor Larry Mohrweis on the almost total lack of transparency and oversight of STOs and their use of redirected tax revenues.

The other committee was an expensive rubber stamp created by House Speaker Kirk Adams for the purpose of expanding the law while shielding the STOs from serious oversight, including the largest STO in the state, which just happens to be run by a fellow Republican legislator (Steve Yarbrough).

Guess which committee's recommendations were embraced by the R majority in the lege?

But I digress... :)

The case will be heard during the next session of the Court.

SCOTUSBlog has coverage here, including links to petitions, briefs, and opinions in the case.

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