Arizona's tuition tax credit scholarship program is one of the most accessible programs in the nation, according to a just-released analysis from the Friedman Foundation. The report, "Using School Choice: Analyzing How Parents Access Educational Freedom," evaluates the ease with which families can participate in the programs, identifies problem areas and reveals data on participation.
Arizona was awarded the highest rating of "excellent."
Arizona received the rating because the state lets private charities administer the program, keeping the process streamlined for parents like mother Lin Mullins of Cordes Lake. "Since receiving a scholarship, my child has received academic awards as top student in each class and been inducted to the National Cum Laude society," Mullins says.
In addition to its ease, the program is universal, allowing students of all income levels to participate.
Five other programs received "excellent" ratings: Milwaukee vouchers, Maine and Vermont town tuitioning, and Illinois and Iowa personal tax credits. Florida's A+ vouchers and Washington, D.C.'s vouchers were rated "poor."
In the words of Lin Mullins, the Arizona program gives "students the opportunities they require in order to make the most of their high school years and hence the rest of their lives." Excellent, indeed.
-Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation: "Using School Choice: Analyzing How Parents Access Educational Freedom"
-Goldwater Institute: "Survey Shows Majority of Arizonans Endorse School Choice: Support Strong for Current School Choice Proposals and for Pro-school Choice Candidates"
-Goldwater Institute: "Tax credit scholarships provide a win-win scenario"
-Goldwater Institute: "Education Scholarships: Expanding Opportunities for Students, Saving Taxpayers Money"
The Internet is probably the greatest boon to individual liberty and entrepreneurship since Ford started churning out affordable cars. It allows people to decide where and with whom they will shop. But as a recent headline in USA Today reads, "States hope to begin taxing online sales." The newspaper continues, "the group [of 18 states] hopes to convince retailers but does not force them? to begin collecting taxes and turning it over to state governments." Merry Christmas, shoppers.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), states lose $8.9 billion a year from uncollected sales taxes on electronic transactions.
But you can only "lose" something if it belongs to you. The Supreme Court ruled twice, in 1967 and again in 1992, that states can only collect taxes from companies located in their territory otherwise, what would stop them from taxing anyone, anywhere.
Let's rephrase the NCSL's claim, then: taxpayers save $8.9 billion, which they now can spend and invest.
Slapping a tax on Internet sales would hurt the many entrepreneurs who make a living on e-commerce. For example, 724,000 Americans use eBay as a main or supplementary source of income, making the online auction site one of the nation's leading job producers.
The Internet has cut costs for commerce. States should learn some lessons, including finding ways to cut, not raise, taxes.
Playing isn't safe anymore, at least according to some East Valley schools. They require students to "power walk" during tag because running is just too dangerous. In Gilbert, Pioneer Elementary School bans playing tag altogether. One teacher at Hale Elementary School, in Mesa, has made students trade in their beanbags for yarn balls because the yarn balls don't hurt. One clich' has it that "Politics ain't beanbag." Apparently, neither is beanbag.
When school officials enact new restrictions, they teach a lesson: individual decision making can be painful, and perhaps should be avoided.
School officials contend that the new rules promote safety and responsibility. Physical education teacher T. J. Jackson insists, "We're looking out for the masses." But some parents, such as Cindy Duffy, of Gilbert, want kids to learn to look out for themselves. She doesn't want schools to micromanage children's play. "That's their creative time," she says, when children learn that their actions have consequences.
Of course, schools often develop safety rules in reaction to litigation. Still, regular inspection of playground equipment, safety certification of employees, and the use of parental permission slips might limit trips to the courtroom. This way, schools can ensure that children will be learning how to make their own decisions during play time.
Encouraging children to make decisions today results in better citizens tomorrow. After all, personal responsibility doesn't take a time out when the recess bell rings.
Unless you're Oscar the Grouch, most people agree garbage is, well garbage, and they want it removed as soon as possible. Cities usually charge either a flat rate or use property taxes to pay for trash collection. But this is a one-size-fits-all method of billing. Why should an elderly woman living alone and generating far less trash pay the same for trash collection as an apartment full of college students?
Thankfully, the market has a ready-made solution: prices. Gilbert will become the third Arizona community to offer a "pay-as-you-throw" program. Households producing less trash can now opt for a 65-gallon can to replace the previously standard 90-plus-gallon can and save a dollar on their monthly fee. It's a start.
Introducing variable pricing allows people to choose the best option for their needs, a determination only they can make. In this way, it avoids the over-use problem of single-rate schemes. If there is only one price for trash collection, the incentive is to throw away as much as possible. Recent studies estimate introducing a price mechanism reduces garbage collected by over 16 percent annually. It also encourages recycling, reuse, and reduction.
The next improvement to Gilbert's plan would be to privatize trash collection, freeing the city of administering this service altogether. It makes economic sense to pay more to throw away more. Gilbert has taken a good first step.
- Arizona Republic: "Small bin, small bill for trash"
-Reason Public Policy Institute: "Variable-Rate or 'Pay-as-you-throw' Waste Management"
-Property and Environment Research Center: "Trash: Pay-as-you-throw"
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