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The Big Lie about universal school vouchers was exposed, so the right-wing elite in Arizona did everything they could to make sure voters don’t have a chance to reject it. Just as voters rejected voucher expansion in 2018.
This time, however, it doesn’t look like voters will get the chance.
Last week, Save Our Schools Arizona PAC submitted what at first was estimated at nearly 142,000 petition signatures in order to block the Republican-controlled Legislature’s latest universal school voucher scheme.
But the group admitted on Monday night that the drive to force a vote will likely fall short of the 118,823 valid signatures needed for Arizonans to actually have a say in how their tax money is spent on education.
That’s too bad.
A bait and switch for Arizona's rich
Voucher expansion was overwhelmingly shot down by voters just a few years ago. That didn’t stop the GOP-run Legislature or Gov. Doug Ducey from ignoring the will of Arizona citizens and passing a law along party lines that would allow all of Arizona’s 1.1 million K-12 student to receive roughly $7,000 in taxpayer dollars to pay for private school.
The 'gold standard': Ducey heralds first-in-nation voucher law
The plan was sold as a way of providing a leg up for the disadvantaged when, in fact, it is a handout for the rich.
That sad fact became apparent as soon as the state started accepting requests for voucher funding.
Roughly 75% of the applications for the funding came from the parents of students who had never been inside an Arizona public school. In other words, the state mostly would be handing out taxpayer money to people who already are sending their children to private schools.
People who already can afford to do so.
Not only that, but we’d be handing over that money with none of the accountability requirements of public schools. In other words, we’d have no idea if the students had been properly educated.
Universal vouchers are Robin Hood in reverse
The universal voucher plan is a scam, pure and simple.
It’s a classic example of Robin Hood in reverse, in which the state robs from the poor to give to the rich.
And the powerful elites behind this put-up job have done everything they can to keep the question of vouchers off the ballot.
The country-club set at the Goldwater Institute and the Center for Arizona Policy Action organized a well-funded campaign to blunt the success of the petition drive, and have now issued gloating statements saying that the SOS petitions don’t have enough valid signatures.
Even if that weren’t true their upper crust donors would have financed all manner of legal challenges to keep the issue from reaching the very people who would be most impacted by the voucher issue.
Why are supporters afraid of you?
It’s puzzling. After all, why would putting the question of universal vouchers on the ballot frighten the leisure class?
They claim the whole point of vouchers is to benefit working families who otherwise wouldn’t have the money to send their children to private schools.
Could they want to keep it off the ballot because voters saw through that trickery before?
Could it be that the rejection of voucher expansion in 2018 proved voters realize it is NOT about helping middle class families? It’s about helping those who don’t need any help. Those who already can afford to send their students to private school.
The same people who rail against government programs meant to help the needy, calling them socialism, love school vouchers for the affluent. Apparently, theirs is a selective socialism.
If that wasn’t true, the law passed by the Legislature would have placed restrictions for requests that are tied to income level.
A while back Beth Lewis, director of Save Our Schools, said, “People are livid about this. Voters are mad that something they turned down four years ago has popped back up again.”
How will those voters feel, I wonder, when this time around they don’t even get a chance to vote?
Reach Montini at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona voters likely denied a chance to reject the school voucher lie