Arizona’s Individual Tax Credit Scholarship has its fair share of warts and the Arizona Republic editorial board rightly takes a few stabs at those, but the they also tried to slay a few imaginary dragons as well.
Arizonans raised $84 million for individual tax credit scholarships and $39 million from the corporate tax credit program in 2014.
The Republic says only one-third of the students benefiting from the individual program were low-income and just 3 percent were special needs. As a result, the paper argues the program should be means-tested to benefit more low-income students.
The problem is less with this argument than the factual foundation that’s supposed to support it. The editorial board claims the corporate tax credit scholarship program includes incomes up to $82,996 for a family of four. It does not. That corporate program is limited to 185 percent of poverty, or about $45,000 for a family of four.
The state’s individual tax-credit program, passed in 1997, was never targeted to low-income families. The state passed the corporate tax credit scholarship program in 2006 and later a special need’s tax credit in 2009. (Note: the individual tax credit doesn’t track special needs students, but Lexie’s Law, a separate corporate tax credit program, does.)
Maybe Arizona needs to do more to help disadvantaged students (for example, increasing the cap on the low-income and special needs tax credits), but the editorial board also needs to fully understand the programs.
Grade: Needs Improvement