Gov. Janet Napolitano finally got it right. Last week, Napolitano allowed an important measure to expand school choice in Arizona to go into law. For the first time, Arizona businesses will get a dollar-for-dollar tax credit when they donate money for tuition scholarships to private and parochial schools.
Napolitano’s acquiescence to school-choice advocates came grudgingly. She admitted in a letter to Senate President Ken Bennett, R-Prescott, that she seriously considered yet another veto of the proposal adopted at least four times by the Republican majority in the Legislature.
But in the end, she allowed the bill to go into law without her signature. The governor accepted she had little hope of reaching any agreement with Republican lawmakers on other critical issues if she continued to stand in the way of the tuition tax credits.
Napolitano took note of this in her letter, echoing our March 24 editorial that lawmakers need to wrap up their work instead of allowing this session to drag on.
Business donations tied to the tuition tax credits are expected to benefit at least 3,000 children now attending a public school. Even with a $5 million annual limit, the tax credits will be a valuable boon for families with average incomes who seek a higher quality education.
Taxpayers will benefit because the private scholarship subsidies will cost less than public school funding for those students. And public schools ultimately will improve as officials respond to the new competition with more innovation and higher standards.
Napolitano made a political decision last week, since she still thinks using tax money to indirectly support private education is a mistake. But we believe she’ll change her mind once Arizona sees the same advancements in education that already are taking place with other school-choice programs around the country.