The Supreme Court ruled Monday that an Arizona law allowing individuals who donate money to private school scholarships to receive a tax credit was constitutional. This National Review article details the ruling. While the Arizona program involves only tax credits and no state expenditures, opponents claimed the program essentially directs state tax dollars toward religious private schools. Justice Anthony Kennedy rejected the notion that the money for the scholarships belonged to the state:
“Contributions result from the decisions of private taxpayers regarding their own funds,” he said.
This is a huge victory for proponents of school choice, which is becoming an increasingly bipartisan issue. According to the article, the Obama administration argued strongly to get this ruling, indicating the benefits of school choice have gained substantial momentum over the last few years.
Similar legislation is on the table in Texas this session. HB 1115, by Rep. Ken Paxton, creates a franchise tax credit that would allow businesses to receive tax credits for money donated to education scholarships. The program is obviously not for individual donors, as the Arizona one is, but the principle is the same, and the cost savings are significant. The bill estimates that it could save Texas as much as $80 million over the biennium.
In a session where finance debates and school choice issues have dominated the education landscape, HB 1115 gives Texas a chance to save money and increase options for parents who want the best education possible for their student. The Supreme Court says “go” on tax credits. We should take this ruling and run with it.