Friday, September 18, 2009

AZ Scholarship Fund responds to recent media attacks

During the past seven (7) weeks, the tax credit program has come under harsh media attention. For those of you familiar with the program, you know the reporting has been biased, unbalanced and full of errors. It was politically motivated with an agenda to destroy the program or cast doubt on it's validity.

When the initial articles failed to created public outcry, opposition members of the legislature attempted to whip up a frenzy by creating a so-called "task force". However, unknown to most Arizonans, the "task force" is not a legally authorized nor recognized entity under legislative law. Arizona Scholarship Fund will be boycotting ALL meetings and inquiries of the false task force and request that you consider doing the same.

Only the Speaker of the House has authority to create a House task force. ASF is working closely, on your behalf, with members of the legislature and other stakeholders of the program to protect and enhance the program. When the Speaker calls for an inquiry into the tax credit program theASF leadership will respond fully with the open transparency that we are known for. We will also inform and invite you to any meeting the Speaker calls for public input and encourage you to let your voice be heard at that time. I believe together, ASF can and will weather the storm without cause for concern.

One of the major issues at the crux of the debate is "Recommendations". As you know, ASF has allowed for donor recommendations since our earliest days and believe that we administer the program in a legally responsible manner. Contrary to unfounded and malicious rumors, ASF will continue to accept donor recommendations until the law specifically disallows them. Please be looking for a second email from ASF (today or tomorrow) detailing how our recommendation program works.

A second major issue in the debate is whether STO's are within the 90% - 10% split the law requires them to maintain. The media skewed percentages out of context and the Attorney General's Office sent letters of investigation to almost two dozen STOs asking for explanation regarding their program split. Although Arizona Scholarship Fund did not receive a letter of investigation, we can show that as of 12/31/2008, our latest official report, that we are in a 92.96% - 7.04% split over the lifetime of our program. As of 10 September 2009, ASF has awarded $4.44M putting us in a 87.9% - 12.1% split for the year. With seven more disbursements remaining this year, we will again be above the 90% - 10% split required by law.

Every year we enhance our program. Sometimes it's in reference to upgrading our systems, adding new marketing features or getting in compliance with changing state and/or federal laws and requirements. This year is no different. We are currently working on implementing changes to our program that we see becoming law in the 2010 legislative session and we've been revamping our website and marketing materials since early this summer. Be watching for more information (Subject Line: "ASF UPDATE") regarding all of the above.

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