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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Does U.S. Supreme Court ruling on tax credit scholarships point the way for Florida vouchers?



In an Arizona case with no ties to Florida, the U.S. Supreme Court might very well have cleared a path to increased school vouchers in Florida.

The court narrowly ruled that corporate tax credits used for school scholarships are not the same thing as government spending of tax dollars for schooling. 

"Respondents and other Arizona taxpayers remain free to pay their own tax bills, without contributing to an STO.  Respondents are likewise able to contribute to an STO of their choice, either reli­gious or secular.  And respondents also have the option of contributing to other  charitable organizations, in which case respondents may become  eligible for a tax deduction or a different tax credit. ... The STO tax  credit is not tantamount to a religious tax or to a tithe ..."

Could this ruling, taken broadly, pave the way for Florida to expand its school choice options through tax credit scholarships without concern as to whether they are used at religious institutions?  In the eyes of the court, tax credits aren't government expenses, after all. Blaine Amendment? Perhaps no problem.

Here's the take from Cato's Andrew Coulson:

"With this ruling, the way forward for the school choice movement is clearer than it has ever been. Education tax credits -- both the scholarship form operating in Arizona and the direct form operating in Illinois and Iowa -- allow for universal access to the education marketplace without forcing any citizen to subsidize instruction that violates their convictions. No other school choice system offers that advantage and it is an advantage that is central to the values of our nation."

[Last modified: Monday, April 4, 2011 4:39pm]


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