It did not take long this morning at the Arizona House Ways and Means Committee.

That is the way Committee Republicans, wary of actual discussion and debate, wanted it.

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On a party line vote of 6 to 4, the House Republicans passed a major expansion on private school vouchers where public monies will go to these educational entities with no major accountability measures in place.

They passed this major bill, a similar version of which had been rejected by the people in 2018, by limiting debate to six speakers each on supporting and opposing sides for a total of 12 minutes. That is one minute for each speaker.

If Republicans believed in the merits of their position, why be afraid to have a longer debate? Why wait until the last minute to announce this bill would come up for a hearing?

During the hearing Democrats commented that the voucher expansion did not provide accountability measures or the increased possibility that special education, minority, and rural students would be accepted by these private schools.

State Representative Pamela Powers Hannley, according to a post by AZ House Democrats, commented on the  no accountability measures:

In posts from Beth Lewis of Save our Schools, Hanley also wondered how rural school students would be impacted with no private schools to attend and public monies being diverted from their school’s coffers. Lewis also posted remarks by State Representative Kelli Butler who said private schools would be able to spend these public dollars on the latest technologies while public schools may not be able to.

State Representative Mitzi Epstein, whose amendment proposal to separate the link between approving the voucher expansion from an increase in school funding, openly expressed concern that there are no mechanisms in the bill to make private schools accept any student that applies to their institution.

House Democrats also released an earlier statement echoing an earlier piece from this writer earlier today calling what the Republicans in the Legislature are doing nothing more than a hidden tax cut for the rich by allowing them to apply for these empowerment scholarship accounts.

If readers find it hard to believe that these schools will have no accountability and the rich will take advantage of this legislation, should it become law, to get a tuition break, then they should click on the below articles that show Republicans trying to take oversight of these empowerment scholarships away from Superintendent of Instruction Kathy Hoffman and audits showing families applying for multiple empowerment scholarships to receive a full tuition break.

Voters should have legislators that will take more than 12 minutes on major education bills.

They should have public servants working to fund the traditional or charter public school that have been struggling for decades to provide a quality education to the great majority of Arizona’s children.

If the majority of the legislature feels shortchanging public schools and giving the rich a tax cut-tuition tax break is preferable than doing what is right for most of Arizona’s children, then the voters of the Grand Canyon state should elect a new majority (and Governor) that will bring a new pro child agenda in 2023.

 

 

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