Rayanne Matlock

School Choice 2.0: Why You Should Support Education Savings Accounts

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Posted by Rayanne Matlock on Monday, October 17th, 2016, 9:20 AM PERMALINK

On September 29th, the Nevada Supreme Court issued a landmark decision that upheld its Education Savings Account (ESA) program as constitutional. Passed by the Nevada legislature in 2015, these savings accounts are revolutionizing K-12 education by providing a marketplace for parents to choose where to send their children to school.

Americans nationwide are familiar with more than 15 tax-advantaged savings accounts that exist in healthcare, retirement and higher education. Relatively new are savings accounts for K-12 education, formally called Education Savings Accounts (ESAs).

This movement started with Arizona, the pioneer state of implementing Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) in 2011. This year, Arizona expects 2900 students to enroll in its Education Savings Account (ESA) program, up from 302 participants in 2013. In 2013, 71% of parents who had children enrolled in the program were satisfied with their ESA.

ESAs give parents the flexibility to tailor their child’s education to meet their needs. The program places the money that would normally be spent on a child in public school into an account that is given to the parents. Parents can then use that money to pay for school tuition at charter, private, and online schools.

Now, approximately 22 states have implemented or considered adopting their own version of ESAs. Five states currently have ESA programs in place.

Arizona, TennesseeFlorida, and Mississippi limit the program to students with special needs or military connections. While this is a great start, ultimately all students should have access to schools that best suit their needs. This is why Nevada has perhaps the most robust ESA program: all 450,000+ K-12 students in the state are eligible to register, no matter their circumstance.

While voucher programs, tax credit scholarships, charter schools and the like have done wonders in improving education, states with such programs in place should not stop there. Though ESAs and vouchers have some similarities, ESAs take school choice a step further: 

1.       ESAs do not operate as a use-it-or-lose-it concept

Like most state voucher programs, the allotted money for a child to attend public school is instead used towards tuition to attend a different school. In a voucher program, any extra money after paying tuition is given back to the state. But with an ESA program, parents get to keep the money left over.

2.       ESAs put parents in control

In most voucher programs, parents choose the school they want their child to go to and the state then transfers the money to the school of choice. But in most ESA programs, parents are given a special debit card or account and can pay school tuition directly. Not only that, but some schools decline to accept vouchers, limiting the school choices for parents.

3.       ESAs have flexible spending

Since any extra money in the voucher program goes back to the general education fund, it can only be spent on tuition. With ESAs, any money left over after paying tuition can be used for other school expenses. That includes textbooks, school supplies, some therapies, and even college savings accounts.

Parents know what’s best for their children, and education is no exception. While voucher programs are a great function of school choice, states with vouchers shouldn’t stop there. ESAs put parents in charge, can provide children from all economic backgrounds a quality primary education, and a chance at saving for college. An ESA program is a logical policy that expands school choice. 

For these reasons, Americans for Tax Reform urges all states in their 2017 legislative sessions to look at implementing an ESA program.

 

More from Americans for Tax Reform


County Office Building First In Kansas To Be Named After Reagan

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Posted by Rayanne Matlock on Thursday, September 29th, 2016, 10:23 AM PERMALINK

The former IRS building in downtown Wichita, Kansas will be the first structure in the Sunflower State to be named after the late President Ronald Reagan. The building is now home to various county and city offices and is located near other municipal buildings. Leading the effort in Kansas, Sedgewick County Commissioner Karl Peterjohn explains why he has been pushing to name buildings after Reagan for years:

“Ronald Reagan’s eight years as president was a transformational turning point for the United States.  Domestically, the era of ‘malaise,’ was eradicated with a re-vitalized economy that served the American people well while providing a market oriented and taxpayer friendly model for the rest of the world.  Internationally, President Reagan was able to implement international arms agreements, and paved the way for creating the climate where, ‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,’ was transformed from a dream for eastern Europeans, to shortly after he left office, a reality that signaled an end to the Cold War for everyone.”

Americans for Tax Reform is excited to add this building in Kansas to its archive of dedications to Ronald Reagan, aptly named the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project. The Ronald Reagan Legacy Project was started in 1997 by Grover G. Norquist. It pushes for states to name as many buildings, roads, landmarks, and other structures to commemorate the late president. The Ronald Reagan Legacy Project also encourages states to dedicate February 6th as Ronald Reagan Day. The purpose is to serve as a reminder of the legacy Ronald Reagan left behind. There are 17 international dedications to Ronald Reagan, and the county office building in Kansas will make 151 domestic dedications.

Reagan’s leadership left a resounding impact on the lives of citizens here at home and individuals worldwide.  His policies led us out of double-digit inflation, twenty percent plus interest rates, and double-digit unemployment.  Abroad, his disdain for communism moved him to set in place policies that would see the Soviet Union fall.

Grover Norquist, chairman of the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project, said this of the effort in Wichita, Kansas:

“Every school, road, courthouse or any landmark that we name after Ronald Reagan becomes a teaching moment. It will open the door for parents to explain to young children who Ronald Reagan was. That is the path that Kansas is taking. I praise the county commissioners in Wichita leading the effort to get this building named after Reagan.”

Sedgewick County has taken an important step towards preserving the legacy of Ronald Reagan. The building will be officially renamed with the ribbon cutting ceremony on October 11th.

 

 

 

More from Americans for Tax Reform


Remembering Nancy Reagan: Sign A Petiton To Rename A Park In Her Honor

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Posted by Rayanne Matlock on Friday, June 17th, 2016, 2:22 PM PERMALINK

Nancy Reagan’s life was one of class, service, and selflessness. While Ronald Reagan served as Governor of California, Mrs. Reagan dedicated most of her time to visiting veterans and the disabled. As First Lady, Nancy Reagan promoted the Foster Grandparents program. The program paired children with foster grandparents, creating a love and bond beneficial for both the children and the elderly. 

After the Reagans left office, Mrs. Reagan started the Nancy Reagan Foundation which later became the Nancy Reagan Afterschool Program. The purpose of the Nancy Reagan Afterschool Program is to act as a drug prevention and life skills program for children in school. Additionally, after Ronald Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 1994, Nancy and Ronald Reagan supported the Ronald & Nancy Reagan Research Institute. The institute is dedicated to research about Alzheimer’s and finding a cure for the disease.

Congressman Jody Hice (R-Ga.) introduced H.R. 5457, legislation to designate Gravelly Point Park as Nancy Reagan Memorial Park. Located near the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Gravelly Point Park is a popular destination for enjoying the backdrop of Washington D.C. while watching planes land on the runway. The renaming of the park next to the airport named after her husband would be an appropriate tribute to Mrs. Reagan.

Please sign the petition to rename Gravelly Point Park to Nancy Reagan Memorial Park to honor First Lady Nancy Reagan.   


ATR Supports Renaming Gravelly Point Park To Nancy Reagan Memorial Park

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Posted by Rayanne Matlock on Tuesday, June 14th, 2016, 12:18 PM PERMALINK

In a letter to Congress, Americans for Tax Reform detailed its support of H.R. 5457 to rename Gravelly Point Park as Nancy Reagan Memorial Park. The renaming of the park serves as a tribute to First Lady Nancy Reagan and the legacy she left behind. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga).

Read the full letter below or here:

June 13, 2016

 

The Honorable Jody Hice

United States House of Representatives

1516 Longworth House Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20515

 

Dear Congressman Hice,

I write in support of H.R. 5457, legislation to redesignate Gravelly Point Park as the Nancy Reagan Memorial Park.

As you know, I founded the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project in 1997 which is committed to preserving the legacy of the 40th President of the United States throughout the nation and abroad, by encouraging the naming of buildings, roads, landmarks, and schools after the late President. There are currently 150 domestic dedications in 32 states and the District of Columbia, and 17 international dedications in nine countries.

Reagan’s leadership left a resounding impact on the lives of citizens here at home and individuals worldwide.  His policies led us out of double-digit inflation, twenty percent plus interest rates, and double-digit unemployment.  Abroad, his disdain for communism moved him to set in place policies that would see the Soviet Union fall. 

First Lady Nancy Reagan’s life was also one dedicated to service and charity. Known for her passion for fighting alcohol and drug abuse, Mrs. Reagan has touched many lives and will continue to do so. She founded “Just Say No”, a drug and alcohol prevention campaign for youth that is still used in many school programs today. Through this passion, Nancy Reagan has left a legacy of her own.

This bill designates Gravelly Point Park as the Nancy Reagan Memorial Park, a fitting tribute to the First Lady. As an extension of the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project, ATR supports this legislation to commemorate Nancy Reagan.

All members of Congress should have no hesitation supporting and co-sponsoring this legislation. 

 

Onward,

Grover G. Norquist

President, Americans for Tax Reform

 

Americans can express support for the Nancy Reagan Memorial Park campaign through a petition on StandUnited.org

 


Americans for Tax Reform Opposes IRS SEE Fee Increase

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Posted by Rayanne Matlock, Alexander Hendrie on Thursday, May 5th, 2016, 5:27 PM PERMALINK

In a letter to Congressman Boustany, Americans for Tax Reform supports the effort to fight against an IRS proposal to increase the Special Enrollment Exam (SEE) fee from $11 per section to $99. Total, that brings the cost of enrollment to nearly $600. This excessive rise in cost has provoked members of the conservative movement to oppose the increase. See the entire letter below:

 

Dear Congressman Boustany :

I write in support of your efforts to oppose an IRS proposal to increase the fee for taking the Special Enrollment Exam (SEE) from $11 per section to $99 per section.

The SEE is a comprehensive test that allows an individual to become an Enrolled Agent, an expert on both individual and business taxes that is qualified to represent taxpayers before the IRS. Currently, the SEE is split into three sections, with the IRS charging an administration fee of $11 per section. This proposal would increase the cost of taking this exam to almost $600, a substantial upfront cost for prospective Enrolled Agents.

At almost 75,000 pages long, Americans collectively waste more than 6 billion hours and spend $378 billion complying with the code every year. The complexity of the tax code means that Americans inevitably must seek assistance filing their taxes, whether that is through e-filling services or through professional tax preparers.

Given this reality, the IRS should be making it easier, not harder for tax preparers to get the qualifications and training they need. Instead, this exorbitant SEE fee increase will disincentivize otherwise qualified candidates, and have the long term effect of decreasing the number of Enrolled Agents. As a result, American families and businesses will find it more difficult and more costly to get the professional advice and representation they need.

I urge you to continue your work scrutinizing this unnecessary fee increase. The IRS should be not be making it harder for Americans to comply with the byzantine tax code.

 

Onward,

Grover G. Norquist

President, Americans for Tax Reform


Happy World IP Day!

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Posted by Rayanne Matlock on Tuesday, April 26th, 2016, 3:52 PM PERMALINK

Owning property is a fundamental human right, and intellectual property is no different. Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution of the United States protects intellectual property to foster creativity, innovation and growth. The United States Patent and Trademark Office estimates that IP-intensive industries are responsible for creating more than 40 million jobs in the United States and contributes nearly 35% to U.S. GDP.

That is why every year on April 26th, individuals and organizations around the world celebrate World Intellectual Property (IP) Day. Founded by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 2000, World IP Day was created to spread awareness about the importance of protecting intellectual property. This year, the theme for the day is “Digital Creativity: Culture Reimagined”. Established by the United Nations in 1967, WIPO continues to lead the global community on issues concerning intellectual property.

Other forms of IP include copyright, trademarks and patents designed to reduce the risk of theft for creative ideas. WIPO reports that in 2014, 2,680,900 patent applications were filed world-wide, as well as 7,449,394 trademark applications. That is nearly twice as many applications filed in 2004 and the market continues to grow.

Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property David Kappos stated, “America needs to continue investing in a high quality and appropriately balanced intellectual property system that will promote innovative, open, and competitive markets while helping to ensure that the U.S. private sector remains America's innovation engine.” The effort to protect intellectual property must continue to be at the forefront of economic policy in order to foster a healthy environment for economic and social growth.

Everyone is invited to spread awareness about intellectual property rights by participating in World IP Day. Those wishing to join the celebration of World IP Day are encouraged to use the #WorldIPDay hashtag on social media.  


ATR Urges Support for H.R. 699, Email Privacy Act

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Posted by Rayanne Matlock on Tuesday, April 26th, 2016, 3:33 PM PERMALINK

This morning, a letter signed by Americans for Tax Reform and 69 other individuals and organizations was sent to the House of Representatives in support for H.R. 699, the Email Privacy Act. The bill is a bipartisan effort intended to update the current privacy regulations imposed by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA). Currently under ECPA, emails can be accessed after 180 days without a warrant. The Email Privacy Act eliminates the 180-day loophole and prevents government agencies from gaining exemption from the law.

The House is scheduled to vote on H.R. 699 tomorrow, April 27th. 


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