Whether it is taking money from public education, or taking money from the front organization set up to facilitate the taking of money from public ed, there's a loud sucking sound wherever the influential state senator is around...
Every year or two, somebody in the MSM takes notice of something that lege watchers have pointed out for more than a decade - the windfall reaped by State Sen. Steve Yarbrough (R-LD17) from his scheme to siphon money from public education into private pockets by virtue of a "school tuition tax credit".
The way that the tax credit works is that taxpayers with money donate money to a school tuition organization that awards "scholarships" to pay for students to attend private schools.
"Scholarships" is in quotes because the recipients are frequently the children of donors.
The most recent MSMer to weigh in on this particular scheme: Laurie Roberts of the Arizona Republic.
From her column -
It was pitched as a small tax-credit program to help poor and disabled students attend private school.
Eighteen years later, $140 million is now being diverted from the state treasury, most of it to pay private-school tuition for non-poor, non-disabled students.
Yarbrough's the guy behind most of the bills to expand Arizona's tax credits for private-school tuition. He's also the executive director of one of the state's largest- school-tuition organizations – non-profits that collect tax-credit donations then dole them out as private-school tuition scholarships.
By law, STOs get to keep 10 percent of what they raise in tax-credit donations. This, to administer the program.
In 2013-14, Yarbrough's Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization collected roughly $17 million in tax-credit donations. That's a sweet $1.7 million for overhead.
Of that, Yarbrough collected nearly $146,000 in compensation, according to his latest IRS filing.
Roberts has a follow-up column here.
This is far from the first time Yarbrough's been in the spotlight. Approximately six years ago, when the East Valley Tribune still had a print edition, a team of reporters there did an in-depth examination of the entire school tuition tax credit program called Rigged Privilege.
Yarbrough has been involved with ACSTO for more than a decade, apparently since its inception, as an organizational officer and executive director.
No matter what his official title (he's been ACSTO's vice president, secretary, or treasurer, or various combinations of those), his base compensation has remained in the range of $96K - $106K per year. He also receives "other compensation" that has varied from ~$5K to ~$45K.
What *has* grown significantly as time has gone on is ACSTO's "processing" costs.
From 2001 to 2004, the organization did not list any processing expenses on its annual Form 990 filings with the IRS..
In 2005, Yarbrough became the organization's Executive Director. Processing expenses were listed as $24,440.
In late 2005, he, his wife, their business partner, and his wife formed the company HY Processing.
In 2006, ACSTO reported paying HY $363,320 for processing donations and scholarships.
In case you think I'm being selective, reports for subsequent years show payments of $426,895, $482,945, $406,875, $392,110, $426,655, $560,710, and figure not disclosed, all to HY.
That's over $3 million paid to his own company that is easily documented. If the undisclosed figure is even just an average of the previous six years, that would put the total near $3.5 million.
And that doesn't even include the organization's rent payments to its landlord.
Who is, you guessed it, Steve Yarbrough.
Maybe they should consider changing the organization's name to "ACSTL" -
Arizona Christian School Tuition Laundry.