BREAKING NEWS: Help is on the Way for Children on Waiting Lists

Governor Jan Brewer has signed SB 1047 to expand Arizona’s Tuition Tax Credit program. This law creates a new tax credit specifically designed to help the thousands of Arizona students currently on waiting lists to attend the private school of their parents’ choice.

Under this new law, individuals can receive an additional $500 dollar-for-dollar tax credit, and married couples $1,000 – that doubles the amount you can already receive in tax credits to help children attend the school of their family’s choice!

What’s more – the scholarship tax credit program actually saves the state money! The average cost to taxpayers per student in a public school is over $8,500 while the average tax credit scholarship is around $2,000, providing much-needed cost savings to the state.

Despite the efforts of some in the Legislature to derail the bill, SB 1047 got overwhelming support in both the state House and Senate, thanks in part to the efforts of the bill’s sponsor, Senator Rick Murphy.

Click to see how your representatives and senator voted.

Please take time today to send Governor Brewer a note on her website, thanking her for signing this bill, and for her ongoing commitment to improving education in Arizona by expanding school choice.

Never Let Our Guard Down

Never Let Our Guard Down
Just a little over three years ago, 56% of Arizona voters decided to add these 20 simple words to our state Constitution:

Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state.

While the marriage amendment victory was a critical step to protecting marriage in Arizona, we would be foolish to think our work is done to ensure marriage is never redefined. A recent poll from the liberal Public Policy Polling group claims a smaller margin of Arizona voters now support traditional marriage – 45% say same-sex “marriage” should be illegal, and 44% say it should be legal. Their poll also says that a majority of voters think that Arizona should establish marriage counterfeits like domestic partnerships.

Of course, the poll did not ask whether marriage should be defined as only the union of one man and one woman. The questions were not exactly neutral, and the polling company typically works for those who want to redefine marriage. The obvious intent is to begin laying a foundation to ask Arizona voters to redefine marriage in the next ten years or so.

The poll shows the “never give up” commitment of marriage opponents to eventually win on the marriage issue. These organizations are well funded and are well organized. Marriage opponents will be out registering voters and working hard to influence the 2012 elections. At CAP, our team will never let our guard down in our stand to see marriage stay the union of one man and one woman.

Intern with CAP!
The next legislative session is just a month away, and we’re looking for policy and communications interns for the upcoming legislative session. This is a great opportunity to get first-hand experience working in public policy down at the state legislature. If you know any college students interested, please help us spread the word!
 

Christmas Giving and Tax Credits

I hope you will join me in participating in Arizona’s tax credit opportunities, subject to your accountant’s advice. These programs allow you to give a gift up to a certain amount to schools and non profit organizations and receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit back for your gift. Here are a few ways to give, and some organizations that have really made a positive impact on our community:

  • Public School Tax Credit: Individuals can receive a tax credit for donations up to $200 and couples up to $400 that go towards extra curricular programs at public or charter schools. Consider giving your public school tax credit to schools in impoverished areas of our state. One to consider is Fay Landrum Academy in south Phoenix.
  • Individual Tax Credit: School Tuition Organizations like Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization (ACSTO), Tuition Organization for Private Schools (TOPS), and Arizona Private Education Scholarship Fund, provide scholarships to thousands of families to choose a private school that best meets their children’s needs. Individuals can receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit on gifts up to $500, and married couples up to $1,000. Click here to view a complete list of School Tuition Organizations.
  • Charitable Tax Credit: Like the public school credit, individuals can receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for gifts up to $200 and married couples can receive a tax credit for gifts up to $400. Consider supporting one of the pregnancy care centers that qualify for the charitable tax credit. Or consider supporting Christian Family Care and their work to find homes for kids in foster care through their Connect One program. Click here to view the complete list of organizations that are eligible for the Charitable Tax Credit.

Not the Way Out

Not the Way Out

The budget crisis across the country is on everyone’s mind. Just this week, our national debt topped $15 trillion. In Arizona, our leaders are seeking ways to responsibly meet our own state budget needs.

As the Legislature searches for ways to balance our state budget, with some wanting to increase state revenues, I am becoming increasingly concerned that the expansion of gambling is being considered. Changing our state laws to allow casinos at racetracks – “racinos” – would dramatically change the character of our state and impact families.

Legislators shouldn’t balance the budget on the backs of Arizona’s families. The harms of gambling, while not often discussed, are very real. You can read more of on this on the Foundations blog.

Thankfully, more than half of the members of the House and of the Senate indicated in CAP’s 2010 Voter Guide that they would oppose “Allowing slot machines and table games off Indian reservations.” I remain confident that they will stay true to their word and not allow gambling to expand.

Still a Long Way to Go
A few weeks ago, I told you that abortions in Arizona had dropped by 30% in September, according to newly released Department of Health Services data. This week, DHS released updated numbers showing that the decrease in numbers continues but not at the 30% pace originally reported. The good news is that abortions still dropped by 417 over the last three months compared to the same time period in 2010. No doubt the drop in abortions directly resulted from the court decision upholding the Abortion Consent Act, the enactment of Arizona’s ultrasound requirement, and Planned Parenthood’s ending abortion services at seven of their ten clinics.

The new data, however, deeply troubles me because 179 preborn children have been aborted at 20 and 21 weeks from January-October 2011, and children can survive outside of the womb at 20 weeks. It’s a sign of how much work remains when babies who could clearly survive outside their mother’s wombs are not surviving inside their mother’s womb.

Key Victory for Marriage Proponents in California
Finally, good news from California’s Prop 8 litigation! The California Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the ProtectMarriage.com legal team can defend the state marriage amendment in court. You may recall that the state governor and attorney general both refused to defend the marriage amendment on behalf of the voters. Yesterday’s decision puts in place the strongest legal team to represent the right of voters to define marriage.

All eyes are on the Prop 8 case, Perry v Brown, as it likely will determine whether individual states have the right to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman or whether the federal courts will take away that right.

Weak Arguments
Also this week, a federal court judge heard arguments from the state and the ACLU about a CAP-supported bill that disqualifies donations to organizations that provide, promote, pay for, or provide referrals for abortion from being eligible for the working poor tax credit. The ACLU, representing the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence, is arguing that Arizona should be forced to provide the benefit of the working poor tax credit to organizations that refer women for abortion.

CAP is supporting the state’s defense. On the Foundations blog this week, our Legal Counsel Deborah Sheasby explains why the ACLU’s case is based on weak arguments.

ACLU at it Again; Files Lawsuit Challenging Center for Arizona Policy-Supported Bill

ACLU at it Again; Files Lawsuit Challenging
Center for Arizona Policy-Supported Bill

Lawsuit ignores longstanding precedent from the U.S. Supreme Court

PHOENIX – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a lawsuit challenging HB 2384, which was signed by Governor Brewer earlier this year. Center for Arizona Policy (CAP) drafted and supported this legislation that ensures that donations to organizations that provide, promote, or provide referrals for abortion do not qualify for the state’s Working Poor Tax Credit.

The misguided lawsuit claims that HB 2384 violates the First Amendment rights of some organizations in Arizona because the policy is favoring life over abortion.

Yet the ACLU’s claims are in stark contrast to consistent precedent from the U.S. Supreme Court that government entities are allowed to create programs that support one type of behavior over another.

“There is no legitimate free speech issue here. Our nation’s highest court has said time and time again that government entities can offer benefits supporting childbirth over abortion,” said Center for Arizona Policy Legal Counsel Deborah Sheasby. “The longstanding public policy of our state is to promote life, and that is what HB 2384 does.”

The Legislature created the tax credit program to promote its own policy of ensuring that citizens’ immediate basic needs are met. This is a narrowly-crafted program, with specific parameters, for which less than five hundred organizations qualify. There are thousands of non-profit organizations that do not qualify, and this does not create any constitutional problems.

“In passing this bill, the Legislature rightly said that abortion does not qualify as an ‘immediate basic need’ and is therefore not the type of service that the charitable tax credit is seeking to promote. This legislation will not block one woman from having an abortion if she chooses,” said Sheasby.

Read more about Working Poor Tax Credit from the Department of Revenue here: http://1.usa.gov/fMLyAq

Read Center for Arizona Policy’s fact sheet on HB 2384 here: http://bit.ly/orlChc

Read HB 2384: http://1.usa.gov/ro4ePE

For more information, visit azpolicy.org or contact Aaron Baer, 602.456.1792

 

Center for Arizona Policy promotes and defends the foundational values of life,
marriage and family, and religious liberty.

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