Editorial: Lawmakers wisely turn away from vouchers
Monday action, or lack thereof, in the Arizona Legislature proves some of our lawmakers do think at least a few moves down the chess board.
On Feb. 29, they pulled from House floor debate for the second time the vouchers bill, HB 2482. The Senate gave 17-13 approval to a similar bill.
Apparently short of votes for final approval, House proponents of education vouchers are looking to scale back their plan to give state dollars so every child may attend private and parochial schools.
Let's think about this for a moment.
Arizona has been in a fight-to-keep-your-nose-above-water battle in education for years (try, decades). To get through the Great Recession, state lawmakers made cuts to K-12, higher ed, and all points between and beyond.
In the meantime, we've seen battles for funding - such as the most recent, the effort to restore money to Joint Technological Education Districts (JTED), which was successful.
We also have held the Legislature in contempt for a voter-approved measure requiring inflation funding, which the courts have upheld. Politicians' answer to that has been to dip into the State Trust Lands fund, a move we all will vote on May 17.
Thus, it comes as no surprise House members yanked from consideration this vouchers bill, which would fly in the face of the May 17 measure asking voters to allow $3.5 billion from the trust fund to settle the inflation lawsuit.
The vouchers diversion of funding has a price tag of about $6 billion.
I see an image of some lawmakers paying attention to education finances, and all the while they're standing in a hole where some of their colleagues still are furiously digging.
By the way, I would suggest that our lawmakers pay more attention to the job at hand rather than their political ambitions. For example, last week Senate President Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, threw his hat into the race for Congressional District 5. He joins House Speaker David Gowan, R-Sierra Vista, who is running for Congressional District 1.
The Capitol chess board is looking more like a springboard.
- Tim Wiederaenders, city editor