Thursday November 26th, 2015 2:36PM

Ga. tax credit scholarships targeted by lawsuit

By The Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) -- A scholarship program meant to help low-income families afford private education violates the Georgia Constitution by sending tax dollars to unregulated schools, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in Fulton County Superior Court.

The suit against the Georgia Department of Revenue and Commissioner Douglas J. MacGinnitie argues that private schools and scholarship providers managing the donations aren't subject to state authority and its restrictions on admissions or students' religious beliefs.

A spokesman for the department declined comment Thursday.

The program targeted by the suit allows individuals a tax credit of up to $1,000 for donating the amount toward nonprofit scholarship providers. Married couples can give up to $2,500. Providers pass donations on to private school students.

The four plaintiffs, including Lynn Huntley, the former president of advocacy group the Southern Education Foundation, said the program doesn't do enough to ensure scholarships go to low-income students or that private schools won't reject those students because of their religious beliefs.

"The (state) Constitution provides for the separation of church and state, and this law blurs that line," Huntley said.

Republican state Rep. Earl Ehrhart, a sponsor of the bill that created the program, said he's confident it will continue. A case against a similar program in Arizona was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court, he said.

"The same argument has been made every single time, and it has lost every single time," Ehrhart said.

The system was created in 2008, giving individuals a tax credit of up to $1,000 and married couples up to $2,500 for donating the amount toward nonprofit scholarship providers. But it has been criticized for doing more to help current private school students instead of low-income families looking for help affording a private school education.

The tax credit program has previously been criticized for doing more to help children already enrolled in private schools than poor students who can't afford it and for letting donors steer scholarships toward specific recipients.
© Copyright 2015
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 10 months ago )
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 10 months ago )
Sheriff: Man shot 2 on I-85 because he wanted car
A 22-year-old man shot two people who stopped to give him a ride on Interstate 85 in South Carolina on Christmas Eve because he wanted their car to drive to Georgia, a sheriff said Wednesday.
5:21PM ( 10 months ago )
Local/State News
Community groups provide Thanksgiving meals to residents in need
GAINESVILLE - Local organizations provide Thanksgiving meals, clothes and care packages to residents in need.
12:37PM ( 1 hour ago )
Gwinnett police continue investigation of Lawrenceville murder
Police are investigating the killing of a man whose body was found inside a home in the Lawrenceville area.
By Associated Press
9:14AM ( 5 hours ago )
NE Ga.'s jobless rate drops to 5.4% for Oct.
The jobless rate for the Northeast Georgia region ticked down a bit in October, while the Gainesville metro remained flat, according to numbers released Thursday morning by the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL).
By AccessWDUN staff
8:00AM ( 6 hours ago )
Feds: Georgia must process food stamps for Syrian refugees
Federal officials are ordering Georgia to process food stamp applications for Syrian refugees.
By Associated Press
6:29AM ( 8 hours ago )
Student sues Ga. Tech after expulsion for sexual misconduct
A Georgia Tech student expelled in April after a sexual misconduct investigation has filed a lawsuit alleging that the review was unfair and violated his rights.
By Associated Press
5:26AM ( 9 hours ago )