Sunday, December 31, 2006
Tax Breaks for Rich Kids’ Schools
Someone in the State Legislature has finally been fast enough on the up-take to recognize that the scheme that allows tax credits for donations to their kids’ schools benefits the rich more than the poor.
It’s a simple matter, really. Wealthy parents are more likely to have the discretionary cash to donate than are the poor. The result is that school districts with poorer populations receive less money with which to fund enrichment activities for their kids.
This is pointed out in a story in today’s Arizona Daily Star. There’s a little irony here. The story quotes Republican Rep. Mark Anderson, who was one of the original sponsors of the Arizona Tax Credit Program, the 1998 law that lets individuals donate up to $200 to public schools for clubs or class activities and get a dollar-for-dollar tax credit.
It’s taken Anderson eight years to recognize that the tax-credit deal he co-sponsored is inequitable, which may not be fast after all. Maybe only half fast. Here’s a quote from the Star:
"The one flaw … is that schools that are generally wealthier demographically have an easier time raising money from the parents who live there, because they can afford the $200," Anderson said.
“Differences in donations between districts and individual schools can be dramatic, he said. For example, Franklin West Elementary School in Mesa took in $5,817 in tax credits in 2005, while Red Mountain Ranch Elementary got $34,758.
Poorer families can't afford to give to their schools, Anderson said, even if they know they will get it back later.
Anderson wants to establish a corporate tax credit to fund a program that would make up the short fall. This would mean less money in the general fund. (As does the existing tax credit.)
Why, in the past nine years, hasn’t some Democratic legislator spoken up on this issue? Geeze, why not scrap the tax credit altogether, let the money stay in the general fund, bite the bullet and go on to fully fund education.
But that just ain't the Republican way.