Gov. Doug Ducey may have gotten a second term but he also took a powerful punch to the gut as his plan for a massive expansion of school vouchers was killed.
"This result sends a message to the state and the nation that Arizona supports public education, not privatization schemes that hurt our children and our communities," Beth Lewis, co-founder of Save our Schools Arizona, said in a statement Tuesday night. "Thousands of volunteers have poured blood, sweat, and tears into this effort for nearly two years in order to protect public education from continued attacks."
It was not just a story, but a lead story-- a bunch of naïve political virgins with no experience, no organization, and no money were taking on the Koch-backed governor on the Koch brothers' home turf. This was a gnat squaring off against an elephant.
And yet, they won victory, putting a proposal to expand vouchers on the ballot instead of allowing it to slip through the legislature. Ducey flexed his muscles, saying he didn't take office to play "small ball."
SOS Arizona had many things on their side-- determination, commitment, and a growing network of actual grass roots activists (who turn out to be more resilient than the fake astro-turf kind).
They had one other weapon n their side-- and this can't be overstated-- in that they were right.
Many stories have short-formed the education savings account as "vouchers," but ESAs are worse, draining taxpayer money to be spent on … well, just about anything. ESAs are not a liberal problem or a conservative problem. They are a privatizers trying to steal as much taxpayer money as they can problem. Vouchers are a bad idea; ESAs are a worse idea. They deserve to be beaten.
SOS Arizona was also right in pointing out that the process Ducey and his minions used was a baldfaced attempt to circumvent democratic processes. Voucher fans know one important part of voucher history-- n voucher program has ever been approved by the voters of a state. Voucher programs only exist where legislators were able to take the voters out of the mix. Again, from AZCentral
Arizona voters didn’t just defeat Proposition 305. They stoned the thing, then they tossed it into the street and ran over it.
Then they backed up and ran over it again.
Voters defeated Ducey’s voucher plan by more than 2-1.
There can be no doubt that voucher fans will continue to push their ideas, but it's now more clear than ever that they can be beaten. Congratulations to Save Our Schools Arizona, and thank you.