“Alt Schools fiasco” for Ducey, Republican legislators? Maybe we can make it so!

07 Apr 2017 05:21 pm
Posted by: Donna

When you’ve lost Laurie Roberts.

Big tip of the hat to my sweetie Mark for using the phrase “alt-schools fiasco” to describe the expansion of vouchers Governor Ducey just signed into law.

PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey late Thursday signed legislation to make all public school students in Arizona eligible to get state money to attend private and parochial schools.

But the plan, approved by the House and Senate hours earlier with no Democrat support and several Republicans in opposition, will not mean every child would be able to get one of these vouchers. The bill has a limit, though that could be removed by lawmakers in the future.

Mark’s sobriquet for the voucher law is an homage to the infamous Alt Fuels Scandal of 2000, in which mostly affluent Arizonans were given thousands per gas guzzling vehicle in tax subsidies if said vehicles merely had the option to burn cleaner fuel, thanks to legislation pushed by then-Speaker of the House Jeff Groscost. Both he and then-Governor Jane Hull were humiliated by the bad publicity and I recall several of my coworkers at Intel, who did not tend to pay much attention to state politics, being furious about it.

As I’ve mentioned before, I tend to be chary of the idea Democrats can win in most of Arizona by emphasizing education, outside of certain, highly educationally-driven districts with a lot of households with a lot of K-12 or college students in them. Most people will tell pollsters they care about the schools, but Republicans have been adept at calming the concerns of voters who are low information on education issues (AKA most voters) via pleasing buzzwords and platitudes like “school choice” and “putting more money in the classroom”. It works, clearly.

But these vouchers allow (warning: autoplay) rich Arizonans to take thousands of tax dollars to educate their kids in private schools while local public school districts beg for funding. This is not hard to explain and you can already see the backlash against it fomenting. You don’t have to have a student in your home to be outraged at this tax giveaway, just as you didn’t have to own a vehicle to be incensed at the alt-fuels boondoggle sixteen years ago.

And while it is true the Alt-Fuels blew a far bigger hole in the state budget than the voucher expansion is expected to, that’s really kind of beside the point. Yes, the eye-popping figure of $200M was certainly helpful in fueling the outrage and resentment to the alt-fuels fiasco but it wasn’t the crux of it, as demonstrated by quotes like this:

Taxpayers are fuming at the extravagant cost. Vehicle buyers are considering suing the state for reneging on the deal. The House speaker lost an election for his role. And drivers of the vehicles say their distinctive blue license plates make them targets of what writer William Least Heat Moon calls fellow travelers’ “middle digit opinion.”

“The other people around town in $50,000 Excursions with a TV and leather seats and a one-gallon (alternative-fuel) tank they’ll never fill up — they’re the ones taking advantage of the system,” said Bill McPeters, owner of a trenching company. He invested more than $100,000 in two trucks, two fueling stations and other costs, with the expectation of recouping tens of thousands of dollars from the state.

“Alt Schools Fiasco” has the added benefit of sounding hip and referential of modern uses of “alt” to ridicule Trump’s and other Republican’s lies, making it the perfect label for an Arizona taxpayer boondoggle to wealthy families sold with absurd lies.

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