Your morning jolt: About those tax credits for donors to private scholarships

From down in south Georgia, Sid Cottingham pointed us to this New York Times article, likely to become a topic of discussion during the upcoming charter school debate:

When the Georgia legislature passed a private school scholarship program in 2008, lawmakers promoted it as a way to give poor children the same education choices as the wealthy.

The program would be supported by donations to nonprofit scholarship groups, and Georgians who contributed would receive dollar-for-dollar tax credits, up to $2,500 a couple. The intent was that money otherwise due to the Georgia treasury — about $50 million a year — would be used instead to help needy students escape struggling public schools.

That was the idea, at least. But parents meeting at Gwinnett Christian Academy got a completely different story last year.

“A very small percentage of that money will be set aside for a needs-based scholarship fund,” Wyatt Bozeman, an administrator at the school near Atlanta, said during an informational session. “The rest of the money will be channeled to the family that raised it.”

In which case, the donation becomes a simple tax break for parents who send their kids to private school. There’s this paragraph, too:

While the scholarship programs have helped many children whose parents would have to scrimp or work several jobs to send them to private schools, the money has also been used to attract star football players, expand the payrolls of the nonprofit scholarship groups and spread the theology of creationism, interviews and documents show. Even some private school parents and administrators have questioned whether the programs are a charade.

***
We’re not done with the presidential primary yet – it’s the turn of Kentucky and Arkansas today.

The latter, thoroughly Republican state could hand President Barack Obama a West Virginia-like embarrassment. From ABC News:

In Arkansas, John Wolfe, an attorney from Tennessee, is on the ballot against President Obama. Obama’s approval ratings are low in Arkansas, and Wolfe could easily get a sizable percentage of the vote, potentially even pull off a victory (seems less likely.) Recent polling showed Wolfe close to Obama in the state.

But already, a discussion has begun on what the 2016 presidential primary should look like.

The current system was the result of a Republican-Democratic deal brokered by a Harvard group that met again last week. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, co-chair of National Association of Secretaries of State committee on the presidential primaries, was there.

Kemp said he doesn’t expect many wholesale changes. “My personal opinion is that you’ll see a few tweaks,” he said.

The current primary calendar was intended to discourage frontloading. “That actually worked,” the Georgia secretary of state said. But the key will be whether the penalties for jumping the gun – the loss of half a state’s convention delegates – will be upheld against Florida, Arizona and Michigan.

“Watch whether everybody sticks to the rules in the loss of delegates,” he said.

Another factor unmentioned by Kemp: Much will depend on whether the 2016 incumbent in the White House is an exiting Democrat or a Republican in search of a second term.

***
Former GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, rejoining the debate on behalf of presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, on Monday night tackled the mushy debate over Bain Capital in a CNN interview:

***
The weekend’s state GOP convention in Columbus continues to offer surprises. We can’t remember this being part of the public discussion – maybe it happened while we were fetching more popcorn – but delegates gave a formal round of applause to Karen Handel, the former gubernatorial rival to Nathan Deal:

Whereas, she was appointed Senior Vice President of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure charity in April 2011, upon which Karen Handel was made aware that the charity was a financial supporter of the pro-abortion group Planned Parenthood; and,

Whereas, she attempted to end this relationship in a way that was respectful to both organizations; and

Whereas, she chose to exit the Komen foundation while showing extreme grace……

Karen Handel wasn’t at the Columbus gathering. But her husband, Steve Handel, was there.

***
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has put his name behind a 5:30 p.m. Thursday fundraiser for redistricted state Sen. Doug Stoner, D-Smyrna, at the Capital Grille.

***
The AJC’s Politifact Georgia today takes at whether a Sierra Club leader was correct when she said that Georgia has one of the lowest taxes on gasoline in the nation.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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61 comments Add your comment

Double Zero Eight

May 22nd, 2012
10:17 am

I bit the bullet and sent my child to a private school.
It was worth the investment.

I find the hypothesis of what might transpire
to be very true regarding athletics. My child’s
school recruited star athletes throughout Metro
Atlanta. The school hired a former college
star and NFL Pro Bowler as its football coach.

I can only imagine what the school would do with
the additional funding that might be available in the
future.

Aquagirl

May 22nd, 2012
10:21 am

Run a non-profit into the ground, get a round of applause from Republicans. Then again, these are the people who think a bank-busting executive should be in charge of the Senate Finance committee.

Reward total incompetence—-vote Republican.

n

May 22nd, 2012
10:24 am

Georgia allows dollar for dollar tax credits for donations channeled to the donor’s own child in a private, religious school?
That is incredible.
Meanwhile the budgets of critical services all over the state are being cut to the bone due to lack of revenue.
Has the leadership of this state gone mad?
We are the laughingstock of this country.
No 21st Century business in it’s right mind would want to locate here.

Eustis

May 22nd, 2012
10:25 am

Do you actually believe parents that send their children to a private school really want that kid from “across the tracks” in with them?

Star athletes are to be excepted. Same holds true for Colleges.

GaBlue

May 22nd, 2012
10:27 am

How exactly was Karen Handel being “respectful” to both organizations? Furthermore, anyone who calls Planned Parenthood a “pro-abortion group” is either completely ignorant of the subject or blatantly dishonest. But I guess it makes sense if you consider the source of the applause.

DannyX

May 22nd, 2012
10:28 am

“…the money has also been used to attract star football players, expand the payrolls of the nonprofit scholarship groups and spread the theology of creationism, interviews and documents show.”

Wow this whole thing is shocking. Who say any of this coming? Our Republican state government is so honorable, they tried their hardest. Nobody could have predicted this. This must be another one of those liberal conspiracies House Speaker David Ralston was talking about. Another case of class warfare? War on Christians? Its just absurd to think this was the plan all along, just absurd.

Becky

May 22nd, 2012
10:37 am

We sent our son to a christian private school. The worst decision ever made. After earning all A’s in the jeebus factory he had to have remedial classes when entering a real educational system. Way too much emphasis on creationism and not enough on math, science, etc.

Save your money and be involved in your children’s education.

Becky

May 22nd, 2012
10:38 am

Karen Handel=Komen donations down 40%. Nuff said.

Danny O

May 22nd, 2012
10:39 am

The state is spending $200 less per pupil in pre-K-12 education. The state has cut the education budget by 1/8th over the last 4 years. Schools need help, but Republicans in the legislature respond by acting as if it is private schools that need help.

If you believe in the children of Georgia, then provide them with an adequately-funded education.

catlady

May 22nd, 2012
10:43 am

Most of us knew this was coming, that this is exactly what would happen. We all pay higher taxes to fund this so that other people’s children can go to private school while their families get a tax break.

td

May 22nd, 2012
10:49 am

Danny O

May 22nd, 2012
10:39 am
has not
Central offices and admin positions are still way to fat so we are still spending to much money on Education.

Education spending in the state is 54% of all expenditures. I have yet to see any evidence that our children are scoring less on standardized test due to the budget cuts so how can you say our students are not being funded at an adequate amount?

yuzeyurbrane

May 22nd, 2012
10:53 am

I will say I told you so. I have been beating this drum for a couple of years with my posts. I’ll add a couple of other corruption facts. The applicable statute protects these “charities” from having to disclose their financial details. No transparency whatsoever with public funds. Additionally, technically only kids transferring from public schools are eligible but it is a well known “secret” that the “charities” tell parents to just pro forma register them for public school but they don’t attend, even 1 day. Since there is no effective state enforcement mechanism in the statute and it is even made difficult for the media to examine the “charities” and their usually interlocking private schools then there is zero accountability for public funds. Yes, this at a time public education is being bled by billions in cuts. In reality, it is just a stealth way of getting the private school voucher concept past Georgia voters and getting money into the hands of parents who have $2500 of state income tax liability they can redirect for their personal use. In other words, the folks at the top. If you got Deal and his Republican cohorts to be honest, they would admit they want vouchers for the wealthy and a public school system, if any, that trains people to be part of a thrifty, obedient menial labor workforce.

rukidding

May 22nd, 2012
10:59 am

Becky,
Komen donations down 40%? That leads me to believe that a large number of donors do not want Komen to fund Planned Parenthood.

catlady

May 22nd, 2012
10:59 am

And for those of you up top who seem surprised, this was the second or third year this has been going on! Get up to speed!

td

May 22nd, 2012
11:00 am

yuzeyurbrane

May 22nd, 2012
10:53 am

“Yes, this at a time public education is being bled by billions in cuts.”

Could the billions in cuts be due to the economy? I will ask you the same question as I asked another poster. Can you show any evidence that these cuts have negatively impacted our students? It has been 5 years now so negative impact should be visible. Maybe our school system budgets were bloated to begin with and needed to be cut or maybe the opinion that money does not equal educational improvement is true.

Becky

May 22nd, 2012
11:06 am

Let’s see-in Gwinnett, teachers are forced to take furlough days due to budget cuts. Not much learning going on on these days is there?

Danny O

May 22nd, 2012
11:08 am

@td:

We are not adequately funding education when we have to furlough teachers, remove caps on class sizes, and do away with school nurses.

n

May 22nd, 2012
11:10 am

The next bubble to burst will be a mass default on the trillions of taxpayer-funded tuition loans made to students of private “schools” and “universities” which actually exist primarily to harvest billions in taxpayer dollars, and channel it away from public education into the pockets of the operators of these institutions.

The “education” these private entities provide is very, very expensive, and grotesquely inadequate.

Yet another racket engineered to divert taxpayer support from public schools and universities and into the pockets of the corporations that run the privatized schools, or into the pockets of religious organizations.

This country loses ground each day that public education is undermined and starved by the politicians and corporations.

Public education, and reasonably priced higher education, are the bedrock of democracy. If it is crippled, we are in deep trouble.

michael g.

May 22nd, 2012
11:15 am

When the school system is as bad in Atlanta as it is here in Savannah, then you would thank your lucky stars (like I do) that I have a chance, with this scholarship, to send my kids to a real school that might actually give them a chance to succeed later in life.

Becky

May 22nd, 2012
11:17 am

michael g-you can always move to a better school district. Not my job to pay for your child’s education at a private school. Your choice you pay.

td

May 22nd, 2012
11:27 am

Danny O

May 22nd, 2012
11:08 am

@td:

We are not adequately funding education when we have to furlough teachers, remove caps on class sizes, and do away with school nurses.

Says who? The furloughs are due to mismanagement in the counties. The counties need to decide where the fat truly is and cut it. Just take a look at the central offices of most metro counties and tell us how many directors, deputy and assistant superintendents that have been cut. You can probably save 3 to 4 teacher jobs for everyone they cut. Why are schools in the business to provide care to students? Why are nurses necessary?

Were is your justification to tell us all these positions are necessary? Are you willing to pay more property taxes to keep these positions?

MPA

May 22nd, 2012
12:09 pm

td- our metro school system (not one of the big ones, either) has more than 1,000 kids who go to school each day with a life-threatening condition (seizures, severe asthma, feeding tube, diabetes with insulin pump, epi pen, etc.). That’s why nurses are necessary.

honested

May 22nd, 2012
12:11 pm

No to state funded charter schools unregulated by local school boards.

Now if I could only vote on the illegal, unconstitutional sop to private and religious schools before it costs us an arm and a leg defending such a stupid idea in court.

Can we please have a realistic government that follows law instead of catering to money and superstition?

Roadkill

May 22nd, 2012
12:16 pm

I quit participating in “pink ribbon” events and increased my donations to Planned Parenthood. Voting with my checkbook, so to speak.

yuzeyurbrane

May 22nd, 2012
12:22 pm

td, I am happy you are such a an expert on the current state of public education in Georgia. I suppose you get to see it up close and personal through your kids? I did. At quality public schools that could have been made even better if they had the funds to adhere to the basics, like smaller class size. Quite frankly, it angers me that I am subsidizing indirectly the parents of private school kids who could afford to send their kids on their own while my own suffer from the funding cutbacks in education. I have also seen how you stand for the use of public funds on other worthwhile projects like Artie Blank’s pleasure palace.

Danny O

May 22nd, 2012
12:23 pm

@td:

While county decisions may have led to furloughs, at least some of the furloughs have been ordered by the state.

TruthBe

May 22nd, 2012
12:27 pm

DannyO, We are funding schools with plenty of money. The corrupt school systems and it’s corrupt Leadership need to stop stealing it and wasting it. Example APS and Beverly Hall. Or stop spending money on social programs and spend money on real subjects.

Danny O

May 22nd, 2012
12:34 pm

I suspect another imposter – that the latest comment from “td” does not seem to be the real “td” as his comments are usually longer.

td

May 22nd, 2012
12:35 pm

yuzeyurbrane

May 22nd, 2012
12:22 pm

Studies are inclusive about the quality of education a child receives and class size. The only real predictors of success are parental involvement in the education process and two parent parental involvement. Money has never been an indicator of success.

“my own suffer from the funding cutbacks in education”

How do your children suffer? How can you quantitatively tell us they have been disadvantaged by cut backs in education. Both of my children attend public schools, they both have a high B average and their standardized test scores have not decreased. The school system has had furloughs and class sizes have increased and I do not see any negative impacts.

td

May 22nd, 2012
12:37 pm

Danny O

May 22nd, 2012
12:23 pm

@td:

While county decisions may have led to furloughs, at least some of the furloughs have been ordered by the state.

Show me some evidence? The state has not ordered any furlough days. That was totally left up to the counties to implement the budget.

Danny O

May 22nd, 2012
12:41 pm

@td:

You’re right, the state has not ordered furlough days. They just slashed funding and suggested that local systems deal with the cuts by furloughing teachers.

clyde

May 22nd, 2012
12:41 pm

Aquagirl has been listening to Huffington,maybe?

I might like to know what Newt said about Bain but I don’t want to listen to him say it.

Two grandchildren graduating from private schools this year.Definitely worth it.

honested

May 22nd, 2012
12:57 pm

td,

I assume (a dangerous thing) you meant to say ‘inconclusive’, and if so, you would be dead wrong.
The ONLY thing shown repeatedly to have a consistent improvement in educational outcome is SMALL CLASS SIZES. Not creationism, not start-up charter nonsense but SMALL CLASS SIZES.
Google ‘University of Tennessee Educational Research’ and you might be astounded.
Wonder why they never refer to this clear and factual data on talk radio?

Jim Robins

May 22nd, 2012
1:10 pm

People, the entire problem lies with the federal government cutting back on the amount of money given to the states for education. Tax revenues are way down from both state and federal. Blame Obama and his communist policies of printing money. I voted for the talker and was fooled. Won’t be fooled again.

honested

May 22nd, 2012
1:16 pm

Jim Robins,

The cutbacks parallel the tax cuts and started around 2003.

Then here in our potty little state, the disaster started with ’sonny the incompetent’ who slashed everything that had been put in place before him.

If we are the dumbest state in the union, what does it gain for us?

JT

May 22nd, 2012
1:30 pm

Every good program finds someone to screw it up. I have donated to this fund for two years and yes you are allowed to target the school you want the funds to go to but not an individual. So it appears that Gwinnett Christian Academy is breaking the rules or bending them at the least. I have recieved no personal benefit other then the satisfaction in knowing our school is able to provide scholarships to those in need.

View From Midtown

May 22nd, 2012
1:31 pm

We knew this Tax Credit for Private Scholarships law was nothing but a thinly-veiled money-laundering scheme from the moment it was introduced since the Arizona law upon which Georgia’s GOP legislators based it was being used that way. Republican law-makers made sure there were no provisions in the law to prevent it from being used as a back-door voucher and no reporting mechanisms so as to hide any evidence from the media.

Congratulations! Yet another fraud perpetuated on their ignorant sheep… errr… constituents who refuse to hold them accountable as long as they can be distracted with silly anti-gay, anti-abortion or anti-brown people (immigrants) initiatives.

honested

May 22nd, 2012
1:31 pm

TruthBe

I am a small business owner and not part of any Presidential campaign.
I have the good sense to vote Democrat, since we don’t have any strong and effective Socialist Party in this country and there are too many morons who vote against their own self-interest to ever get a good, strong Socialist elected.
Instead, we are stuck with republicans and everyone can see how that is working.

WOW

May 22nd, 2012
1:40 pm

@ Honestead

While smaller class sizes are definitely a contributing factor to successful outcomes, the main determining factor is Parent involvement. My wife is a teacher and she would tell you any day that she would take more kids in her class if their parents are involved (volunteer from time to time, help out with homework). Those are the kids that ultimately succeed.

honested

May 22nd, 2012
1:46 pm

WOW,

I agree that Parental Involvement is a factor and it is certainly effective for everyone involved. However the research clearly demonstrates that smaller class sizes have a much more productive outcome.

GaBlue

May 22nd, 2012
2:04 pm

How is possible to have a rational discussion with people who think it’s a good idea to de-fund public education?

Rockerbabe

May 22nd, 2012
2:06 pm

RexDogma

May 22nd, 2012
2:13 pm

Hey, I got a way to combine the two stories. Why not Karen Handel start a private school so she can get the money back she lost for komen? that whole private scholarship school scholarship is a joke. giving money to the rich from the tax payers. If you want your kids in private school do what I do, pay the bill in full and I am not very rich at all. Bottom 5% of my kids school income level.

Eustis

May 22nd, 2012
2:45 pm

JT

Does Gwinnett Christian ever publish a list of scholarship receipents? If not, you may be paying for rich guy down the street. If they don’t publish a list because of privacy concerns (likely the case), then you still may be paying for that rich guy.

Road Scholar

May 22nd, 2012
3:04 pm

td:”I have yet to see any evidence that our children are scoring less on standardized test due to the budget cuts ….”

The state of Georgia is and has been 49th out of 50 states in education achievement. td, do we have to fall all the way to 50th to show a decline? Get real!

Alecia

May 22nd, 2012
3:16 pm

Hmmmm…$2500 taken out of the pot instead of having one more child in the public system costing over $9,000 a year to educate. We save $6500.00 and still complain. If the state could pay $2500 average per each child, we could save a ton. The folks donating are giving us all a gift.

mark

May 22nd, 2012
3:42 pm

Jim, about 1% comes from the Feds. County property taxes pay for education, or SPLOST. But SPLOST can only go to some things, not pay or benefits.

Georgia has a law that requires QBE, but since there is not enough money, the state does not follow the law. Since I don’t have enough money, can I not follow some laws? I don’t think so. Before you call obama a commie!! take a govt course, you will find our that Obama is not a Commie.

double

May 22nd, 2012
4:21 pm

Presumptive nominee.Don’t think your RNC rule 38 going to come back to haunt you.Continue dividing you could get Paul after all.Which would be good.

Kris T.

May 22nd, 2012
4:34 pm

To put furlough day’s in perspective. In a typical case making 40k 4 furlough days = 1 mortgage payment (or rent etc).

michael g.

May 22nd, 2012
4:57 pm

becky- you’re not. It’s a tax credit for families that want to contibute to the program. You are not paying a single dime for my child’s quality education. You can keep your kids in failing public schools all you want.