Representative Rich Crandall Responds to ECA Tax Credit

Sonoran Alliance received the following response from State Representative Rich Crandall regarding an article which appeared in last Saturday’s Arizona Republic. As our readers may remember, SA linked over to a recent post that appeared on Thoughts on Mesa.

In last Saturday’s Republic, a quote of mine was completely taken out of context leading people to believe that I was wishing to eliminate the use of ECA funds for fine arts and other supplemental activities.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  As the father of seven children, all in the Mesa Schools, I know first hand the benefits of the ECA program.  However, with that said, there are two areas that need reform.

First, the ECA program is very inequitable in form and function.  Wealthy schools and districts do very well while lower income districts do not stand a chance.  Representative Steve Yarborough of Chandler has been pushing to make it easier to donate through payroll deduction and other means but has consistently met strong resistance from those opposed to letting parents direct where some of their tax dollars are spent.  I am hoping he will try again this year.

Second, there is very little discussion given as to the best use of ECA funds.  Let me share a perfect example.  This next year, 90 students from Mountain View High School will travel to Vienna, Austria for the Haydn International Choral and Orchestra Festival.  They are following all of the rules laid out by the Legislature for ECA funding.  I was happy to vote, “yes” on their proposed trip when they brought it before the School Board a few months ago.  They are a world-class performing group and will represent us well in Europe.  Per their application, the cost per student will be approximately $3,600, with the majority of it coming from ECA contributions of friends and neighbors.  If you do the math, 90 x $3600 = $324,000.

I am sure these students will have a wonderful time in Vienna for 10 days; however, the big question is whether a trip to Vienna is the absolute best way to spend almost a third of a million dollars?  Imagine what the music program at Mountain View could do with $324,000, if it were allowed by law?  Think new instruments, one-on-one instruction, professional sound system, etc.  Or think even bigger; a professor in residency from Juilliard for spring semester or a legendary music composition program with their own recording studio.  Students for years would benefit from the $324,000, not just 90 students for 10 days.  Unfortunately, ECA rules do not allow Mt. View to think at this level; and so, they do the next best thing and have a once-in-a-lifetime experience in Austria for 10 days.  Do not fault them for playing by the rules.

My goals with ECA reform are clear.  First, continue to allow funding of supplemental programs that truly benefit students such as after-school reading, sports and fine arts, DECA competitions, etc. but with greater prioritization.  Second, allow ECA funds to be used for parent, out-of-pocket educational expenses such as AP/IB test fees, ACT/SAT exam fees, college application fees, etc.  It will not be easy to pass this type of reform, but with the right safeguards in place to ensure taxpayer funds are used appropriately, we can hope for the best.  Thank you.


  1. Rich Crandell, has done a poor job for Mesa Public Schools in his leadership roll. Working in the house and at the legislature he should have seen the financial problems coming down the road and taken action sooner than later to avoid the cut Mesa Public Schools have had to take.

    Now that MPS is facing short falls and cuts he looks to programs like the ECA funds to correct his failings and generate more for the schools and their administrators.

    Now as chairman of the House Education Committee I’m sure that he will also seek other reforms that remove parental choice.

    Maybe he will seek to use ECA funds to set up special programs to teach English to kids who are here illegally. Or maybe he will seek to expand the free meal programs, to all kids and make more money for his mother’s dietary business.

    Rich, you need to distance yourself from any involvement with the school systems or if not you need to excuse yourself from all discussion because of conflict of interest laws.

    An Rich please don’t pander to us we can see right through you petty attempts to be popular.

  2. Great reading material. I’ve learned a lot by reading here. Thanks!

  3. Straight Arrow says

    Couldn’t agree with you more. If education is a priority then make it a priority. These clowns are out of touch. Rich Crandall didn’t even bother to show up to vote half the time in 2009. He is a fence sitter who doesn’t want us to know where he really stands on education and taxes. He is CEO of one of the nations largest child nutrition programs and benefits from larger government. He supports raising taxes yet is irresponsible with how it’s spent. As long as his bottom line gets fatter and fatter, he’ll tax and spend the rest of us right into the poor house.

  4. Here you go again Rich, trying to decide where YOU think the money should or should not be spent. Stop trying to control everyone and everything by making more rules, more laws, more changes. You have failed as a leader. You didn’t bother to show up to work last year. We’re tired of your excuses. I’m surprised you haven’t been sued over conflict of interest. Maybe we should decide how you spend the millions you profit off government contracts. Hypocrite

  5. ExcellenceNow says

    all your comments are spot on. Rich is making millions off his connections with education. Surprised he hasn’t been removed from office before now. Huge conflict of interest. Just goes to show how broken our government has become. Sad state of affairs!

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