ARIZONA — One day after a U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding tuition tax credits in Arizona, state lawmakers there passed a bill to increase donation limits to the program by 50 percent, The Arizona Republic reported.

The change means that individual taxpayers and married couples can donate up to $750 or $1,500, respectively, to school-tuition organizations which then cover the cost for students to attend private schools, according to the Republic. The measure also eliminates donation caps for corporations and insurers, the report said.

In a 5-4 ruling, the court said that the tax-credit program cannot be challenged by other taxpayers, The Republic said in a separate report. Taxpayers can't sue over programs that don't directly affect them, except in some cases in which separation of church and state is an issue, The Republic reported. But in Arizona's program, the donations are private money, not state tax money that was redirected, the court ruled, so the narrow church-state exception would not apply.

In 2009, Arizona taxpayers used the tax credits to redirect $51 million to school-tuition organizations from their income-tax bills, according to the Republic. Taxpayers get a dollar-for-dollar reduction from their taxes.

Supporters of the tax-credit program say it saves the state money by aiding transfers from public schools, which cost about $5,200 in state funding per student, the Republic reported.

SOURCES:

The Arizona Republic, “Arizona bill would hike tuition donations,” April 6, 2011

The Arizona Republic, “High court upholds Arizona’s tuition tax-credit program,” April 4, 2011

FURTHER READING:

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Adding private schools to the school choice debate,” June 7, 2010

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