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Brewer vetoes expansion of private school tax credits

April 12, 2011 By Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services

Saying it ``unbalances the budget,'' Gov. Jan Brewer this afternoon vetoed a bid to sharply increase the amount of money individuals and corporations could divert from paying the state to instead help students attend private and parochial schools.

Brewer said the legislation to expand the tax credits comes just as the state carefully balanced its budget for the coming fiscal year. ``Undoing that effort and immediately placing fiscal year 2012 into a deficit is inappropriate.''

Ron Johnson, lobbyist for the Arizona Catholic Conference, said he is ``somewhat disappointed'' in Brewer's action, given her traditional support for providing alternatives for students. Johnson, who represents the state's Catholic bishops and the schools they operate, promised to work with the governor next year to see if a more acceptable plan can be crafted.

Brewer did sign a separate piece of legislation which would set up a state-run scholarship fund that the parents of special needs students could tap to send their children to private and parochial schools. While that deals with only a limited number of children, backers of that measure say it could become the template for finding ways to use state funds to finance school tuition and fees for students throughout the state.

Brewer also objected to another provision of the bill that would have repealed the total cap that now exists on how much all corporations in Arizona can divert to the organizations that give scholarships for students who do not want to attend public schools. And she said a new credit that would have been available for mining companies could sharply impact some local governments.

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