“The legislature shall by general law establish and maintain a system of public schools open to all children of the State, and may provide for other public educational institutions. Schools and institutions so established shall be free from sectarian control. No money shall be paid from public funds for the direct benefit of any
Sheldon Jackson College v. State, 599 P.2d 127 (Alaska 1979)
The Alaska Supreme Court held that tuition assistance grants for students attending private colleges violates the state’s Blaine Amendment because (1) only private colleges benefit from the program, (2) the money effectively subsidizes private education, (3) the benefit provided is substantial, and (4) there is no distinction between giving money to the student and giving money to the school.
Matthews v. Quinton, 362 P.2d 932 (Alaska 1961), cert. denied, 368 U.S. 517 (1962)
Viewing its Blaine Amendment as more restrictive than the federal Constitution, the Alaska Supreme Court held that transportation of private school students at public expense violates the Alaska Constitution.
Tax credit programs are Alaska’s best option for a school choice program. Because Alaska does not have an individual state income tax, a tax credit program would have to apply to corporate or other taxes. A voucher program, however, would be problematic. Alaska courts have interpreted the state’s Blaine Amendment restrictively. Although its actual terms ban only “direct” aid, Alaska courts have rejected the distinction between aiding students and aiding the institutions those students choose to attend, thereby limiting the use of public funds to public educational institutions.
Model Legislation: Education Savings Account, Great Schools Tax Credit Program, Family Education Tax Credit Program