BRIEF: School Choice in the States, August 2017



A lawsuit was filed in the Arizona Superior Court in and for Maricopa County on August 23, challenging the legal sufficiency of referendum petitions gathered by Save Our Schools Arizona, a political committee seeking to submit the recent expansion of Arizona’s education savings account to a vote – with the intent to overturn the law, passed this year by the state legislature. Over time, the expansion would make the program nearly universal. Several legal challenges and motions are expected. If legal challenges to the petition-gathering process fail, the vote would occur in November of 2018.


Florida’s tax-credit scholarship program became the first of any type of school choice program nationally to serve more than 100,000 students in one year.


Illinois’s SB 1947 was signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner. In addition to reforming the way Illinois funds district schools, the bill creates a new $75 million tax-credit scholarship program for low-income students. Illinois is the 18th state to enact a tax-credit scholarship program. Click to learn more about Illinois’s Invest in Kids Program.


An appeal was filed at the Montana Supreme Court on August 18 in Espinoza vs Montana Department of Revenue, challenging a ruling by the Montana Eleventh Judicial District Court at Flathead’s ruling that the Montana Department of Revenue made a “mistake of law” in denying religious schools the right to participate in Montana’s tax-credit scholarship program. The District Court did not opine about the constitutionality of the law, but notably declared that the term “appropriation” found in Montana’s Blaine and no-aid provisions does not apply to tax credits. The case will now proceed in Montana’s Supreme Court.


Wisconsin’s Joint Finance Committee passed an amendment to the state budget (AB 64 / SB 30) that would increase the income limit to participate in Wisconsin’s statewide voucher program from 185 percent of the federal poverty line (about $45,500 for a family of four) to 220 percent (about $54,000 for a family of four). The Wisconsin Assembly and Senate are next to consider the income limit increase.