Republican legislators are cashing in on an education tax loophole that exclusively benefits private schools, according to an article in The Arizona Republic. Arizona State Sen. Steve Yarbrough has introduced many bills over the years to expand Arizona's Student Tuition Organization tax credit program, and "according to fiscal 2014 data acquired by The Arizona Republic, is the third-highest-paid tuition organization head in the state. That year he earned $113,000."
According to state law, this is perfectly legal. "Legislators do not have to declare a conflict of interest unless their vote benefits fewer than 10 people. There are more than 60 school tuition organization directors, and thus no conflict of interest for Yarbrough."
Arizona State House Democratic Leader Rep. Dr. Eric Meyer has been very outspoken against legislators working to benefit themselves through the STO program. “'Ten percent of the money you give goes to some middle man, some of whom are legislators. They introduce bills that directly impact their income. And then there is no accountability on performance or how the money is spent.'”
To make matters worse, as noted by Democratic Arizona State Sen. Steve Farley in The Arizona Republic, the remaining money that is donated by families to the STOs is often designated by the donors for children of family friends who reciprocally donate for their children.
“'You’re allowing extremely wealthy people who can pay for it anyway to get a tax dodge for them and their friends and family, so the public pays for their kids at a private school, said Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson. 'Right now, it’s almost impossible for someone who is poor to benefit because even if they get a scholarship, they still have to come up with the rest of the tuition.'”