On August 16, Florida’s First District Court of Appeal upheld a ruling that had dismissed a lawsuit against the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program. The plaintiffs, including the 140,000-strong Florida Education Association, argued that the privately funded program violates the Florida Constitution by diverting funds from the state’s public schools. But the appeals court held that the plaintiffs had no standing to bring the suit.
Private individuals and corporations fund the scholarship program in exchange for tax credits. The program then provides private school tuition vouchers for students in foster care and from lower-income families. Since no tax dollars go to private schools, the appeals court found that the plaintiffs could not demonstrate that any actual harm was done.
The plaintiffs argued that the tax money the public school system would have received were it not for the tax credits constitutes a harm. The court found that standard far too speculative, ruling that “the cloudy crystal ball the trial court would be required to gaze into in order to identify a particularized harm” could not be enough to eliminate the program, which serves 80,000 students. Finding no constitutional basis to throw out the Tax Credit Scholarships, the court stated that the “appellants’ remedy is at the polls.”