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Week in Review: 6,400 Arizona students are benefitting from this groundbreaking Goldwater program

August 17, 2019

Is there an education program that can save money, increase student funding, and change lives for the better? Yes—and states across the country should look to Arizona for an example to follow. But not surprisingly, this groundbreaking reform faces strong opposition from those who stand against education reform.

As a new Goldwater report reveals, Arizona’s empowerment scholarship accounts (ESAs)—a program pioneered by the Goldwater Institute—is helping more than 6,400 students, saving taxpayers thousands of dollars per enrolled child, and is even benefitting public schools. 

Known more informally as education savings accounts, Arizona’s ESAs take a portion of what the state would spend covering the cost of a student’s education in a K-12 public school and instead deposit that money into a personalized account—money that can then be used to pay for tutoring, educational therapies, private school tuition, curriculum materials, and other teaching tools. Special needs students, children of military members, students in foster care, and children living on Native American reservations are among those who are utilizing the program. 

Despite all the success, education savings accounts face fierce opposition from teachers unions and the left wing. Our elected leaders, though, have the power to fight back.

“It’s time for legislators to fight on behalf of students, rather than for the unions who have forsaken them for political pet projects,” writes Matt Beienburg, Goldwater Institute Director of Education Policy, who authored the report. “It’s time to stand with the families of our armed forces, the children of disadvantaged communities, and parents across the country yearning for choice and opportunity in the education of their kids.”

Education savings accounts now offer such opportunities to families across the country, with North Carolina becoming the sixth state to enact an ESA program beginning in the 2018-2019 school year. The Goldwater Institute has led the nation in helping students and their families by enacting education savings accounts in Arizona, and other states should follow in its footsteps.

Read more about Beienburg’s new report here.

“Irresponsible Politician” Thrusts Trump Donors into Spotlight

Last week, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) tweeted the names and occupations of 44 San Antonianswho contributed the maximum amount to President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign. Despite outcry from defenders of donor privacy, he doubled down on his tweet, saying that the information was already publicly accessible anyway. But is that a reasonable argument?

Goldwater Institute Senior Attorney Matt Miller joined The Andy Caldwell Showto talk about Castro’s tweet, saying that while sharing that information was indeed legal, “that doesn’t make it right.” Thanks to campaign finance disclosure laws, the names, occupations, and addresses of anyone donating more than $200 to a campaign are available to the public, but as Miller explained, finding that information takes work. However, when Castro shared that information with his 37,000 Twitter followers, he made it much easier to target the people whose information he shared, opening them up to possible harassment and intimidation.

The Goldwater institute is leading a national effort to defend the privacy of nonprofit donors, as cities and states across the country enact laws requiring charities to turn over their donor lists any time those groups speak about important public issues. You can read more about donor privacy here and listen to Miller talk about Castro’s tweet and the importance of protecting donors’ privacy here.

This Arizona Town’s Electioneering Is All Wet

Arizona law wisely prohibits politicians and government bureaucrats from using taxpayer dollars to advocate for their preferred outcome in an election. Yet government officials in the state continue to ignore these laws on ballot questions in upcoming elections—even in elections that would limit their authority and the growth of government programs they oversee.

The latest example is in Bullhead City, Ariz., where public officials are asking voters to support Proposition 415, which would authorize the city to acquire by eminent domain private water utilities that the city would then own and operate. City leaders, including the Mayor, have made extensive use of city resources to advocate for this big government grab.

Last month, the Goldwater Institute sent a letter to Phoenix’s regional transit system, challenging its use of tax dollars to oppose a ballot measure that would stop the expansion of the light rail and direct those dollars to other transportation needs. On In Defense of Liberty, Goldwater Institute Director of National Litigation Jon Riches writes that similar to the Valley Metro situation, the actions of Bullhead City’s leaders are a clear misuse of taxpayer resources and a clear violation of Arizona law that should stop immediately. Read more about it here.



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