The U.S. Supreme Court will review two cases challenging the affirmative action admission programs at the University of Michigan. The issue in both cases is whether the University’s goal of admitting a diverse student body justifies making race a factor, among others, in admissions decisions. The outcome of the Michigan cases will not only determine whether colleges can continue to level the playing field for women and minorities, but it may also decide the future of affirmative action far beyond university classrooms.
Far-right members of Congress and their allies in the Bush administration have made restricting reproductive rights a priority for the 108th Congress, from packing the courts with anti-choice judges to pushing legislation that would cripple reproductive freedom worldwide. The latest assault on reproductive rights comes in the form of unconstitutional legislation to ban what the bill’s supporters call “partial-birth” abortion.
In the next several weeks, there will be major efforts in the House and/or Senate to amend the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to include private-school vouchers. The relatively unknown Florida McKay voucher law is the model for this pro-voucher effort in Congress. One of the McKay law’s most enthusiastic promoters has dubbed the program the “Florida Miracle.” A report released today by PFAW and the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund debunks this myth, raising serious concerns about financial abuse and the law’s impact on parents’ rights, special education services and public schools.
Gov. Jeb Bush publicly gave his support to holding a special election later this year in which voters would be asked to reconsider decisions they’ve already made to support an initiative to reduce class sizes in Florida’s public schools. Amendment 9 was approved by the state’s voters last November. People For the American Way was one of the leading partners in the pro-Amendment 9 Coalition to Reduce Class Size.
For the second straight year, the biggest beneficiaries of Illinois’ tuition tax credit law are its most affluent taxpayers—those earning more than $80,000 annually. This finding, based on newly released state data, shatters promises made by supporters of the 1999 law, who had argued that the measure would particularly benefit Illinois’ low-income families
Illinois enacted its tuition tax credit program in 1999 and is one of six states that offer tax credits or deductions for private school tuition. Like these other states, Illinois adopted its law through a legislative act. Recently, tuition tax credits have gained new interest and attention, as some proponents have suggested that tuition tax credits are a politically viable alternative to more controversial voucher programs.
New, publicly available data from the 2001 tax year reveals that the biggest beneficiaries of the tuition tax credit law—by far—are Illinois’ most affluent taxpayers. This data from the Illinois Department of Revenue and Research reveals that nearly half of all tax-credit dollars continue to flow to taxpayers with annual incomes of over $80,000.
1. The other five states and the year in which their original tax-credit or deduction statute was enacted are: Minnesota (1955), Iowa (1987), Arizona (1997), Pennsylvania (2001) and Florida (2001). For more information, see: “Vouchers, Tax Credits, and Tax Deductions,” Policy Brief: Vouchers, Education Commission of the States, updated February 2003, pp. 1-5.
Testimony by Nancy Keenan, Director of Education Policy, People For the American Way before the Select Committee on Constitutional Amendment Implementation The Florida Senate on Implementation of Voter-Approved Amendment 9