Nonini speaks on school tax credit bill

NoniniSen. Bob Nonini isn’t talking much to Idaho news reporters these days; for example, he turned down a request from Idaho Education News a few weeks back, when we wanted to talk to him about his transition from the House to the Senate.

So you have to glean details about the Coeur d’Alene Republican’s legislative agenda any way you can. And from any source.

Which makes this recent article — published by the Heartland Institute, a Chicago organization dedicated to “free-market solutions to social and economic problems” — worthy of a mention here.

Heartland took an interest in Nonini’s bill to grant income tax credits to individuals or companies that contribute to private school scholarship programs. The bill narrowly passed the House but failed in the Senate Local Government and Taxation Committee on a 7-2 vote.

Where does Nonini go from here?

“I plan to continue the push for tax credits for donations to organizations that grant scholarships to qualifying families,” Nonini told Rachel Sheffield, the author of the article and an education research assistant at The Heritage Foundation. “The legislation made substantial progress this year. I will in the interim now be visiting with senators from the tax committee that did not support the legislation to attempt to address their concerns.”

  • Kevin S. Wilson

    To say that “Heartland took an interest in Nonini’s bill” is to state the

    obvious while also putting the cart before the horse.

    Of course Heartland took an interest in Nonini’s bill. The bill is a cornerstone

    of Heartland’s “Ten Principles of School Choice,” which posits that “the way

    public schools are funded can be made to more closely resemble private school

    funding by requiring that tax dollars follow the student to the school chosen by

    his or her parents or guardians. Two ways to do this are choice scholarships (or

    ‘vouchers’) and tuition tax credits” (p 6). Nonini’s bill is also model

    legislation drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a

    corporate-funded organization that brings global corporations and state

    politicians together behind closed doors to vote on model legislation that is

    then returned to state legislative bodies and passed off as the handiwork of

    state legislators.

    In short, Nonini’s bill isn’t Nonini’s bill.

    Instead, it is a bill born of right-wing think tanks such as the Heartland

    Institute and attended during birth by the midwife ALEC. Along with Idaho Speaker of the House Bedke, Nonini serves on the ALEC Education Task Force. Together, the two legislators are working to introduce ALEC model legislation in Idaho in order to privatize public education for the financial benefit of hedge funds, venture capitalists, and for-profit education corporations such as K12, Inc. (operator of Idaho’s largest virtual charter school).

    Need proof? If Nonini won’t respond to inquiries about his relationship with

    Heartland and ALEC, then one need only look at the model legislation itself.

    As with much of what is found in both versions 1 and version 2 of the Luna Laws,

    this legislation establishing so-called “scholarships” for private and parochial

    schools can be found in one or more of the model bills ALEC has created in its

    ongoing effort to privatize public education. In particular, one need only look

    at such ALEC legislation and resolutions as the “Resolution Supporting Private

    Scholarships Tax Credits” and the half-dozen or so bills making up the “Parental

    Choice Scholarship Program Act.”

    It is long past time for Idaho journalists to ask Nonini, Bedke, Goedde, Luna,

    and other Idaho politicians about their relationships with ALEC and about any

    influence that relationship has upon the legislation they introduce in the name

    of education “reform.” And it is long past time for Nonini and Company to give

    credit where credit is due, by citing ALEC as the source of their “ideas.”

    If these questions are not asked and answered, if politicians such as Nonini are not forced to identify the corporate sponsors of their proposed legislation, then Idaho taxpayers will soon find their tax dollars flowing from already cash-strapped public schools into private and parochial schools throughout the state.

  • Kevin S. Wilson

    Sorry, forgot to cite my sources:


    ALEC Exposed: Bills Affecting Americans’ Rights to a Public Education

    The Heartland Institute: Ten Principles of School Choice