Tax Benefits for Private Schools

The Arizona budget has been a controversial piece of politics for some time now. After Governor Ducey campaigned on the promise to get the budget to a surplus, huge cuts have been made to state colleges, public schools and several other necessary programs. A new conversation is emerging now about how much state funding should be spent on private schools.

PHOENIX (AP) – An effort by some Republican lawmakers to roll back an annual 20 percent boost in the amount of corporate tax credits available for contributions to private school tuition organizations has returned this session.

Rep. Doug Coleman, R-Apache Junction, said legislation he’s sponsoring would start anew the conversation that sidetracked a similar effort last year. He says the Legislature needs to renew its look at the credits benefiting private school students because the credits are threatening regular and charter school funding.

The programs currently allow about $56 million a year in tax credits for corporations that donate to private school tuition organizations, or STOs, but automatic yearly increases could set that limit soaring.

“Currently the amount of STOs increases 20 percent a year until it’s $600 million,” Coleman said. “And I just believe that when our public system is so underfunded we’re eliminating a choice. So I wanted to raise the issue, start the discussion and we’ll see where it goes.”

Coleman’s House Bill 2063 would cut the annual increase from 20 percent to 2 percent or the amount of inflation.

Republican Sen. Steve Yarbrough opposes the rollback and said that the scholarships save the state money because they’re much lower than what the state pays public schools. He pointed to individual tax credits for STOs, which have remained stable for five years between $50 and $60 million, and said corporate credits will likewise stop growing.

“It is a huge benefit economically for the state as well as for those kids. So what is the race to try to diminish the growth of opportunity?” Yarbrough said.

Several House Republicans worked together last year to keep a new STO law from passing and got an agreement from the sponsor of a second STO bill to consider adding transparency measures.

Another issue addressed by Coleman’s legislation is the amount STOs like Yarbrough’s are allowed to keep for administration costs. Public schools generally use about 6 percent of their money for actual administration, while STOs can keep 10 percent just for simply acting as a conduit for the cash.

Coleman’s legislation cuts that to 5 percent.

Democrats have long opposed the tax credit program, one of several designed to give parents more choice in schools.

“You get to the point where this gets to be a huge and growing hit to the general fund,” said Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson. “We need to be conservative with our fiscal budget and that means we can’t have tax credits blow a hole in our revenue future indefinitely.”


A closer look at “El Chapo”.

The recent “El Chapo” and Sean Penn interview has been getting huge headlines but Sean Penn says it is for all the wrong reasons. Penn is a well renowned humanitarian who has famously provided huge amounts of aid in natural disasters and now has tried to ignite a conversation about the war on drugs and the other factors that play into someone becoming a member of the cartel. Now that El Chapo has been recaptured, take a look at how authorities are considering his extradition, This is one of the many facets of this case that make it interesting for the legal world.

Behind bars, “El Chapo” stands with his hands behind his back facing away from a camera after Televisa obtained the first image of the infamous and most-wanted drug lord at the Altiplano jail in Mexico. 

With Mexican authorities saying they’re committed to extraditing Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to the United States, it appears more likely than ever that American prosecutors will eventually get their hands on the drug lord.

But it’s not clear exactly how long that process will take, nor which of the offices that have already brought charges against Guzman would get to go first with their cases.

A look at how Guzman could be extradited:


Mexican authorities say they’ve formally notified Guzman, whose capture Friday came six months after he broke out of a Mexican prison, that arrest warrants from the U.S. are being processed.

That’s the start of the process, though the head of extradition for the Mexican attorney general’s office told local media that it will probably take at least a year to extradite Guzman. And Guzman’s attorney said that the defense already has filed six motions to challenge extradition requests.

The speed of the extradition process is almost entirely up to the Mexican government, said David Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor who oversaw the narcotics division at the U.S. attorney’s office in Miami.

“It can go as slow or as fast as they want it to go,” Weinstein said.


About a half-dozen U.S. attorneys’ offices throughout the country – among them Chicago, San Diego, New York City, New Hampshire, Miami and Texas – have secured indictments against Guzman in his absence over the years.

In the Eastern District of New York, for example, a 49-page grand jury indictment accuses Guzman of running a cartel that imported “multi-ton quantities of heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana into the United States” and of employing hit men who carried out murders, kidnapping, tortures and other acts of violence.


No announcement has yet been made, and a Justice Department official said Monday that no decision had been reached on where Guzman would be sent. The Justice Department has a designated Office of International Affairs that deals with extradition matters.

Regardless of where he ends up, it’s safe to expect jockeying among the different offices.

Prosecutors in San Diego, for instance, can point to their experience in going after the Arellano Felix cartel.

That group’s former leader, Benjamin Arellano, was extradited from Mexico and was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison in 2012.

In Chicago, Guzman has been dubbed “Public Enemy No. 1,” and prosecutors there say the city is a major hub for Guzman’s Sinaloa drug cartel.

Besides its own experience in narcotics cases, the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn counts among its alumni some of the highest-ranking Justice Department officials in Washington, including Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Leslie Caldwell, chief of the department’s criminal division.

There’s often politicking involved in these decisions, and deference is sometimes paid to the office that filed its case first, said Marcos Jimenez, a former U.S. attorney in Miami who oversaw drug cases involving extradited defendants.

But he said “the overwhelmingly most important factor is which office has the best case against him and the most likelihood of conviction. I would think that they would put those things together and pick the office that has both the best case and the best team of prosecutors available.”