Arizona Capitol

State Senator Steve Yarbrough Praying for God to Talk Jan Brewer Into Signing Bill Benefiting His Scholarship Business

Arizona Legislature
He doesn't know when to quit.

​State Senator Steve Yarbrough is praying for Jan Brewer to sign an amended bill benefiting his side business, which she originally rejected last week as "unbalanc[ing] the budget."

SB 1186, the "2011 tax corrections act," passed the Arizona House and Senate yesterday. It is a revised bill that would increase a current Arizona tax credit from $500 to $750 for donating to a "scholarship organization." Basically, Arizona allows you to decline to pay taxes, up to $500, if you take that money and give it to "scholarship organizations" -- like Yarbrough's Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization.

The legislation Brewer rejected was known as HB 2581.

Yarbrough's Christian School Tuition Organization reportedly is the largest such group in the state and took in $11.4 million in tax dollars during 2007, according to the Arizona Education Association. No wonder he's pushing it so hard.

As originally reported in the East Valley Tribune, the tax credit cost Arizona $43.2 million dollars last year, but that isn't stopping Yarbrough.

In fact, he insists the credits save the state money by "reducing what Arizona needs to provide in state aid to public schools." Flagstaff Democrat Tom Chabin chafes at the assertion, calling it "irrelevant" whether the bill reduces revenues. He says it's less money for education across the board, which is unacceptable.

Yarbrough's current version of the bill eliminates provisions that would allow corporations to write off big money to these scholarships. The Tribune points out that Yarbrough is trying to address the issues Brewer had with the original legislation, but her office remains skeptical of any bill that "blows giant holes in the budget."

We're not saying private schools are bad or that Yarbrough's organization and others like it are necessarily poor investments. We're saying Yarbrough's push for the governor to sign this legislation is embarrassingly self-serving, and Brewer should reject it accordingly.