Action Alert: Oppose Empowerment Scheme

There continue to be persistent rumors that the Legislature will use a procedure called a “strike all amendment” to revive the Empowerment Scholarship bills we thought were dead for this session. These bills provide for a massive expansion of vouchers that enable students to take money from public schools and use it to attend private schools, religious schools, home schooling, and even put it into a savings account. 

Take Action: Insist that Senate President Steve Yarbrough (LD17) recuse himself from any consideration of SB1431 or HB2394 or any other bill that advances empowerment scholarships because he has a serious conflict of interest!  SEN. YARBROUGH MAKES MONEY FROM THIS PROGRAM.  A New York Times story about Arizona’s vouchers can be found at this link https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/02/upshot/arizona-shows-what-can-go-wrong-with-tax-credit-vouchers.html?_r=0 . 

We are trying to head off any efforts to resurrect the empowerment scholarship bills. Send an urgent message (see suggested wording below) to your Legislators (all 3 of them), copy Sen. Yarbrough, Gov. Ducey, and Senator Allen (Sen. Education committee chair). 

Senator Sylvia Allen is Chair of the Education Committee as well as our LD6 Senator:

602-926-5409 – Email:

LD 6 House Reps:

Brenda Barton

602.926.4129

 

Bob Thorpe

602.926.5219

 

LD 7 Reps:

 

State Senator Jamescita Peshlakai (D) LD7 – (602) 926-5160 – Email:
State Rep. Wenona Benally (D) LD7 – (602) 926-5172 – Email:
State Rep. Eric Descheenie (D) LD7 – 602-926-4846 – Email: 

Senate President Yarbough: (602) 926-5863 — Email:  

Governor Ducey: 602-542-4331 contact page (for email)

 

Suggested Language for Contacting about Sen. Yarbrough Recusal

Wording suggested by Joye Kohl and others

Example 1:

I call for the recusal of Senator Steve Yarbrough from any discussion or vote related to the expansion of empowerment scholarships (ESAs) in Arizona and/or the diversion of taxable revenue as private school tax credits. No legislator should promote and/or advocate for legislation from which he/she will personally benefit. 

Senate President Steve Yarbrough has personally benefitted for years as documented in official state reports from the AZ DOR. Not only has he championed the legislation for ESAs/ private school tax credits, but he profits from the taxable revenue diverted from the general fund in support of private schooling. One example is the annual salary ($96,000 in FY2015) he received as Exec. Dir. of the Arizona Christian Student Tuition Organization which collects the tax credit monies and disburses ESAs. Add automobile costs, rent for buildings he supplies related to ESA services and income from his interest in an information processing company serving his STO and for which he is co-owner. 

As noted in a March 2, 2017 article in the New York Times (DeVos and Tax Credit Vouchers: Arizona Shows What Can Go Wrong)  by Kevin Carey,  “the fact that an influential politician can both promote and profit from tax credit vouchers shows what can happen when public funding for education is largely removed from public hands.”

Do what is right: Recuse yourself, Sen. Yarbrough

 

Example 2: 

This is an outrage! The president of the Arizona Senate should immediately recuse himself from voting on any bill pertaining to the private school tuition tax credit system. On March 2, 2017 the New York Times reported that Mr. Yarbrough is not just a champion of tax credit vouchers; he also profits from them personally. Mr. Yarbrough is Executive Director of the Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization (Acsto).   In 2014,  Acsto  paid Mr. Yarborough $125,000. They also paid him $52,000 to rent the building that he owns and in addition a for-profit company called HY processing was paid $636,000. The co-owner of HY processing is Mr. Yarborough. Since 2014 Mr. Yarborough has continued to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars through the Arizona tuition tax credit system. It is time that the citizens of Arizona demand that Mr. Yarbrough recuse himself from any discussion or vote on the tuition tax credit system. This is not only an ethical issue but it’s also a moral one. It diverts money from the general fund desperately need for social issues like education, child protective services and health care aid for the needy.

Example 3:

The Empowerment Scholarship bills are an embarrassment to our state: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/02/upshot/arizona-shows-what-can-go-wrong-with-tax-credit-vouchers.html?_r=0

They are corrupt scheme to steal money from public education and enrich the Senate President. Stop them!

 

Posted in Action Alerts.