New Mexico Voters Strongly Support Creation of Tax-Credit Scholarships for Students

Survey results show large majorities in favor of creating programs that would allow children to attend schools of their parents’ choice

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (December 8, 2011) – New Mexico voters strongly support tax-credit scholarships for students to attend the school of their choice, including private schools, parochial schools, and public schools, according to a survey sponsored by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice and conducted by Braun Research, Inc.

The American Federation for Children—the nation’s voice for school choice—praised the survey, in which registered voters were asked about a legislative proposal to allow individuals and corporations to receive tax credits for donating to scholarship funds for New Mexico students.  The scholarship funds would then create scholarships for students who want to go to schools better suited to their needs.

Supporters of the tax-credit scholarship bills have advocated on behalf of special needs students and low income students, in the hope that the scholarships will help them find schools better suited to their individual challenges. Last year, over 120,000 students were enrolled in nine different scholarship tax credit programs nationwide.

“These programs help reduce the dropout rate by getting kids out of failing situations and into schools that can help them succeed and, ultimately, graduate in higher numbers,” said Malcom Glenn, the National Communications Director at the American Federation for Children. “The voters of New Mexico have made clear that they’re staunchly behind creating a scholarship tax credit program to give children the opportunities they deserve.”

In addition, special needs students could use the scholarships to attend schools that better suit their needs. A total of 77 percent of New Mexico voters support a tax-credit scholarship system for special needs students (48 percent strongly favorable, 29 percent somewhat favorable). One such program has existed in Arizona since 2009.

On the question of creating a scholarship fund using tax credits for low- and middle-income students, 62 percent of registered voters either strongly favor (23 percent) or somewhat favor (39 percent) a tax-credit scholarship program for New Mexico students.

Two scholarship tax credit bills were introduced in the Senate last session. Both the Equal Opportunity Scholarship Act and the Special Needs Student Scholarship Act failed to emerge from the Senate and House Education Committee. Similar bills will be presented in early 2012 at the start of the next session.

The poll, conducted September 12-18, 2011, surveyed 808 registered voters via telephone.