From the January 1999 Idaho Observer:

Gem state seduces choice students

by The OBE Predictor

During the 1999 Legislative Session, Rep. Lenore Barrett (R-Challis) will sponsor the latest plan calling for tax credits for any person or corporation paying state income taxes that donates money toward a child's private or home school education. “This means Grandma, Grandpa, friends, businesses and other relatives can help send your children to a private or homeschool and take it off their taxes with a dollar for dollar tax credit,” said bill supporter former Representative Mark Stubbs.

The maximum tax credit for individuals would increase from $250 in the years 2000 and 2001 up to $1,000 in 2005 and the maximum credit for corporations would go from $1,000 in the year 2000 and 2001 up to $10,000 in the year 2005. Corporate giving could be funneled to non-profit groups that would award scholarships to kids in private schools. Under the proposed legislation, the tax credit could not exceed 40 percent of any individual or corporation's income tax liability. The home or private-schooled student could collect donations up to 50 percent of the previous year's per-student expenditure by the public schools ($2,100, currently). A school district would have the option to donate up to 50 percent of its per-student expenditure to the parents of the home or privately schooled child.


My four children go to private school. The public school where my children do not attend will get paid for educating my children who are not even there. What a sweet deal for public schools! What a rip-off for taxpayers! Then, the public school my children don't attend will decide whether to give half or none of the public school per-student expenditure to me for my children's private school tuition. Will it help if I say “pretty please?”

Excuse me, but don't my taxes pay for the per-student expenditure to begin with? So I get to potentially pay half again as much in the hopes the public school administrators might choose to share it with me. Hello? How do you spell S-C-A-M?

The proposal's impact on the state budget could range from a first-year savings of $2.1 million to a cost of $25 million depending on how the legislature phases it in, according to Laird Maxwell, chairman of Idahoans for Tax Reform. Maxwell will lead the lobby effort on behalf of the tax credit bill--the third attempt for tuition/tax credits in Idaho. Last session, the House Revenue and Taxation Committee refused to print Barrett's bill to grant a $1,500 tax credit to parents of non-public school children due to fiscal concerns.


Maxwell promises that, “school choice tax credits in no way allow the government to intrude into private or homeschool operations. There is, however, the full force of Idaho tax law to prevent tax fraud. And, rightly so. The parent and child must supply the donor with appropriate tax information. If a parent finds any unease with the tax credits, they simply don't have to participate.”

Too late, Mr. Maxwell.

After you've poisoned private and homeschools with public funding there will be no option to participate. Remember Hillsdale College whose students received federal aid via Pell Grants and entangled the school in federal regulations?

In March of 1984, the Supreme Court ruled that private schools are subject to government regulations even if they receive no DIRECT public funds. Any bill which seemingly protects private and Christian schools is in violation of previous Supreme Court decisions.

True, the proposed tax credit bill passes state constitutional muster (benefits must flow directly to the child's parents or legal guardian), but the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that students subsidized with public money (federal or state general fund) become unwitting carriers of regulation. Additionally, Washington education researcher Lynn Stuter warns:

“Goals 2000 will extend to any public, private or parochial school school that uses funds that can be even remotely connected to federal dollars.”

So, you can keep your strings, keep your $250, keep your empty promises and keep your hands off my private school. I'll pay my own way and keep my private school PRIVATE!

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