To Jim Nintzel at Tucson Weekly/The Range, it Looks Like Lawmakers Are Moving To Squash That Ballot Prop To Block School Vouchers.
That would be Prop 305. We knew this was coming given the rumors swirling about over the last week or so. Now it’s out in the open with reporting from Nintzel, Laurie Roberts of The Republic, and AZBlueMeanie at Blog for Arizona.
Citing a report from The Republic, AZBlueMeanie explains:
The goal is to repeal last year’s legislation that expanded the ESA program to all 1.1 million public-school students and replace it with legislation intended to address criticisms of the expansion, according to more than a half-dozen people familiar with the wide-ranging discussions.
Sen. Bob Worsley, a Republican from Mesa (a mythical moderate Republican), has talked in broad terms over the past week with lawmakers and outside groups about new Empowerment Scholarship Account legislation but did not offer specific details to The Arizona Republic.
The “repeal and replace” idea would circumvent Arizona’s referendum process, which allows voters to try to veto a law if they gather sufficient signatures to place it on the ballot.
The effort could backfire. Last year, Save Our Schools Arizona was able to gather enough signatures to force a referendum on the voucher plan. Making them go out and do it all over again with this kind of chickenshit dirty trick will energize teachers and other public ed supporters, which will make it even easier to turn them out in November—which is the last thing that Gov. Doug Ducey needs as he runs for reelection.
But, as Roberts notes, the Save our Schools folks, if necessary, are ready to go at it again with another referendum: Arizona leaders preparing end run on voters to save their school voucher law.
You knew this was coming.
From the moment a grassroots group of Arizona citizens had the nerve to challenge our leaders and freeze their efforts to divert more of our money to private schools, You. Knew. This. Was. Coming.
Republicans at the state Capitol are quietly talking about a plan to repeal the universal voucher program they passed last year – the one 100,000 citizens signed petitions to block and put on the November ballot – and replacing it with a new universal voucher program.
This, in order to block voters from having the final say in November on whether we want to send hundreds of millions of dollars more to private schools at a time when public schools are woefully underfunded.
Sen. Bob Worsley, R-Mesa, who brokered the deal that allowed universal vouchers to pass last year, is apparently spearheading the sneak attack on your constitutional right to referendum.
According to the Republic report, Worsley is talking to Gov. Doug Ducey’s office, other legislators and “outside groups”, which is code for the dark-money interests who spent big bucks getting Ducey and Republican legislators elected.
The ones who want to expand Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (read: vouchers) to every child in the state. Or at least, the ones who can afford to supplement an ESA with thousands of dollars more in order to cover private school tuition.
But no shady deal is acceptable to those in Save Our Schools.
Dawn Penich-Thacker, spokeswoman for Save Our Schools Arizona, vowed to mount a new referendum if our leaders go forward with this sneak attack. She said she’s been approached about the idea of repealing the voucher law and replacing it with a voucher plan that comes with a sweetener – 10 percent pay raises for public school teachers.
But hey! Ducey et al. have insisted there is no money for teacher raises. Now, when the voucher vultures feel threatened, suddenly there is money for raises.
Here’s an alternative idea, Sen. Worsley, Gov Ducey: How about leaving the voucher law intact and allowing Arizona voters to exercise their constitutional right – their right – to decide whether they want a two-tier system of schools: public schools for the have-nots and private schools for the haves.
And since we now know that there is money available, how about you raise teacher pay by 10 percent? Because you should.
I add with no strings attached. Do the raises and leave Prop 305 to the voters’ decision. That’s the moral and constitutional right thing to do.