Arizona Lawmakers' Quick, Creative Work Makes Me So Happy for Lexie

Sometimes even shameful things can work out for good, with good people working hard to make sure kids can keep the quality education options they have received through school choice. In Arizona, thankfully they worked very quickly.

Things went awry on March 25, when the Arizona Supreme Court ruled on a shameful lawsuit by shutting down two voucher programs that served special-needs and foster care kids.

Even then, though, as my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow reported for School Reform News, there was a ray of light:

[Executive director of the Arizona chapter of the Institute for Justice Tim] Keller said that remains a possibility in Arizona, where it could be accomplished by popular vote either through a legislatively initiated referendum or a citizens’ petition drive. “Right now, every conceivable legal option is still on the table,” he said.

Fast forward 65 days to this monumental press release from the Alliance for School Choice:

In a major victory for Arizona families, Governor Jan Brewer today signed “Lexie’s Law,” a $5 million corporate scholarship tax credit initiative designed to enhance educational opportunities for children with special needs and foster care students.

Under the new initiative, corporations can receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for making donations to organizations that provide scholarships so that children with special needs and foster children can attend private schools. The bill also allows insurance companies—which do not pay state income tax—to receive credits based on the insurance premium taxes they pay. This addition introduces a broad new category of businesses to the Arizona school choice equation and will aid participating children in the both the new program and the Corporate School Tuition Organization Tax Credit.

Today’s action by Governor Brewer will provide a continued avenue to educational opportunity for students who faced uncertain futures as a result of the recent State Supreme Court decision invalidating two voucher programs. In addition, a new category of children with physical or mental impairments—those with “504 plans”—will also be eligible to participate in the new program.

Hooray for Lexie, and the hundreds of other kids who will benefit from this creative, last-minute effort by Arizona lawmakers. For those who fight for school choice and opportunity, I am reminded of some excellent advice from a great man:

Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.

I love happy endings.