The Senate has passed a bill that would extend the deadline for individuals to contribute to groups that provide scholarships to private schools.
The bill would extend the contribution deadline to April 15, the last day to file income tax returns. In effect, people would be allowed to make a contribution during the first three-and-a-half months of a calendar year and claim the tax deduction for the previous year.
The Senate on March 29 voted 17-13 to pass S1274. The bill now goes to the House to await committee assignment.
At first, though, it appeared as though the bill was going to fail. Republican Sens. Linda Gray and David Braswell indicated at first that they would vote against the measure, but they eventually changed their minds.
Gray said it would be wrong to set special rules for one particular tax-deductable contribution, when other types of contributions must be made prior to the end of the calendar year. But, as a supporter of private schools, she decided to vote yes
“We have asked that this bill be held,” she said. “The sponsor was determined to make us vote on it whether we wanted to or not, and that will be remembered.”
Sen. Al Melvin, a Tucson Republican who sponsored the measure, said Gray’s reprimand was a “small price to pay to get the bill passed.”
Sen. Paula Aboud, a Democrat from Tucson, said the bill sends the message that the state doesn’t care about its traditional public schools.
“But boy, we are great on private (schools),” Aboud said.
Sen. Carolyn Allen, a Republican from Scottsdale, voted against the bill.
“I do not wish to offend anybody, but I do not want my tax dollars go in to teach anybody’s religion,” she said.
Right now, the maximum contribution amount to school tuition organizations is $500 for single filers and $1,000 for couples.