Appellate Court to Hear School Choice Case: Opponents Appeal Ruling Upholding Corporate Tax Credit Scholarships
Phoenix—Phoenix-Arizona’s Court of Appeals will hear arguments this Wednesday, September 17, at 11:30 a.m. to determine the fate of nearly 2,000 Arizona schoolchildren relying on scholarships funded by the state’s corporate tax credit scholarship program. Arguments in Green v. Garriott will be heard in Courtroom 2, before Department E of the Arizona Court of Appeals at 1501 West Washington in Phoenix.
In March 2007, the Maricopa County Superior Court threw out a legal challenge to the program, ruling that corporate tax credit scholarships are consistent with the Arizona Constitution and no different than individual tax credit scholarships upheld by the Arizona Supreme Court nearly a decade ago in Kotterman v. Killian. School choice opponents appealed the decision.
“The Arizona Constitution and Arizona law are crystal clear: scholarship tax credits are constitutional,” said Tim Keller, executive director of the Institute for Justice Arizona Chapter, which represents Arizona parents and Arizona School Choice Trust, a non-profit organization that grants scholarships to low-income families. Keller will defend the program in court on Wednesday. “This is an utterly baseless lawsuit, and its only goal is to stop parents from sending their children to schools that work for them.”
Passed in 2006, Arizona’s corporate tax credit scholarship program encourages private companies to donate to non-profit funds that provide scholarships to low- and moderate-income families to attend private schools. Companies receive a tax credit for their donations. The program is currently capped at $14.4 million. In 2007, funds donated to scholarship organizations enabled 1,947 students to attend 156 private schools.
“The scholarship is truly a blessing,” said Laquesha Tejada, whose six-year-old son Ishmael attends Millennium Worldwide Academy, a private school in South Phoenix, thanks to a scholarship from Arizona School Choice Trust. “I was lost before we got the scholarship, and I thought I would have to tell Ishmael he couldn’t go to MWA. He loves going to school there and is excited to do his homework. He’s learning so much, it’s incredible. There’s no other school I would have my son in.”
In addition to individual tax credit scholarships, Arizona has a well-established history of offering tax credits to promote social welfare, including more than two-dozen programs that offer incentives for resource conservation, economic investment and charitable contributions.
“Opponents of school choice are asking the courts to unravel years of precedent and practice to halt a policy they don’t like,” concluded Keller. “As our state’s highest court has already ruled, school choice programs benefit parents and children by extending the promise of a quality education. Opponents’ groundless legal claims should not be allowed to block educational opportunities.”
Visit www.ij.org/schoolchoice/az_taxcredits3 for complete background on the case.