Today was the last Ways and Means Committee Meeting of 2021, and it was a doozie. More interruptions. More suppression of speech. More putdowns.
There were several controversial bills on the agenda, particularly three that take money from public education or lead to more privatization.
SB1273 would allow Student Tuition Organizations (STOs) to give students money for expenses other than tuition. we know that STO’s are not transparent. We know how many scholarships they deliver but not how many students are being served. We also know that some parents get as much is $20,000 a year per child for those children to attend private or religious schools. That’s blatantly unfair and in equitable. SB1273 would just allow them to give away more tax￼￼ with no accountability.
SB1280 is about the privatization of school transportation. There is a previous video on this bill, but things came out in committee that make men more against it. One of my big concerns about strike-everything bill SB1280 is child safety. This bill allows charter schools and districts schools to use some of their current transportation funding in order to give grants to parents. As you may know, charter schools get money for transportation, but they don’t have to use it on transportation. I’m sure you’ve seen the long lines of parents who are picking up or dropping off their kids at charter schools. Public school kids have the opportunity to ride the school bus or perhaps even walk to their neighborhood school. This bill would allow parents to apply for grants to get an unknown amount of money to come up with “innovative ways” to get their kids to school, including paying parents gas mileage or funding neighborhood carpools, city bus passes, or ride sharing services (like Uber or Lyft).
Continue reading Republicans Attack Invest In Ed & Ignore Voters (video)
SB1280 is another massive, strike everything, right-wing model bill proposed by Rep. Shawnna Bolick. What else would we hear in the last week of committees? There are dozens of terrible bills including several strike-everything’s in committees this week. I was not kidding when I told people over the weekend in Tucson that many of us have PTSI from the horrible bills that are passing the legislature all too often on bipartisan votes.￼
SB1280 appropriates $10 million in grants to privatize school transportation. This is a horrible Koch Brothers model bill that leaves our young children vulnerable in the name of privatization. It is on the agenda for Ways and Means on Wednesday.
Continue reading What Next? Privatized School Transportation (video)
In 2018, 60% of voters — 1.5 million people — said “no” expansion of the Empowerment Scholarship Awards (ESA) at the ballot box. In 2020, 1.7 million voters said “yes” to Prop 208, which provides dedicated funding for public education by requiring Arizona’s 1% to pay their fair share toward public education. Ever since that November 2020 vote, republican legislators have been on a path to neutralize prop 208 and featherbed Arizona’s wealthiest residents.￼
Today in Ways and Means, we debated SB1452, yet another attack on public education. SB1452 Is another dramatic expansion of the Empowerment Scholarship Awards program. It would triple the number of students available to receive an ESA but does not give a dime to the department of education to run a dramatically expanded program.￼ Yes, you heard that right. Republicans are pushing for a bill that goes against the will of the voters in 2018.
Continue reading AZ Voters Said NO! to ESA Expansion & YES to Public Ed (video)
This is an RTS alert for SB1041 and SB1118, two student tuition organization (STO) bills that are in Ways and Means on March 10.
There are many different tax credits in support of STOs. SB1041 refers to tax credits for STO scholarships for displaced and disabled children. (Displaced children have been removed from their home and could be in foster care.) This STO is capped at $5 million in tax credits per year, and all of the tax credits are claimed each year. SB1041 would raise that cap by $5 million a year annually.￼ Businesses can buy tax credits from an STO, which turns that cash into scholarships for designated types of students to attend private schools.
Continue reading #AZLeg Should Fund #PublicEd, Not Pricey Private Schools (video)