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Kevin Carey is doing a great job exposing the failure of vouchers to help the children who are allegedly supposed to be saved by them. In his latest article in the New York Times, he shows how slick politicians and entrepreneurs are cashing in to enrich themselves while administering tax credit programs.
Trump and DeVos are likely to promote school choice through tax credits since it is the fastest way to avoid state constitutional challenges and to divert public money (that would have been paid as taxes) into private religious schools.
Carey looks at the tax credit program in Arizona, where a politician named Steve Yarbrough has made the program his private honey pot. Yarbrough is president of the state senate. Vouchers have made him a very wealthy man.
“The Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization (Acsto) is one of the state’s largest voucher-granting groups. From 2010 to 2014 (the latest year recorded in federal tax filings), the group received $72.9 million in donations, all of which were ultimately financed by the state.
“Arizona law allows the group to keep 10 percent of those donations to pay for overhead. In 2014, the group used that money to pay its executive director $125,000. His name? Steve Yarbrough. Forms filed by the organization with the I.R.S. declare that he worked an average of 40 hours per week on the job — in addition, presumably, to the hours he worked as president of the State Senate.
“Yet the group doesn’t do all the work involved with accepting donations and handing out vouchers. It outsources data entry, computer hardware, customer service, information processing, award notifications and related personnel expenses to a private for-profit company called HY Processing. The group paid HY Processing $636,000 in 2014, and millions of dollars in total over the last decade.
“The owner of HY Processing? Steve Yarbrough, along with his wife, Linda, and another couple. (The “Y” in “HY” stands for “Yarbrough.”) According to The Arizona Republic, Acsto also pays $52,000 per year in rent. Its landlord? Steve Yarbrough. In June 2012, Mr. Yarbrough bought a car for $16,000. In July 2012, Acsto reimbursed him the full amount.”