PRESS RELEASE For Immediate Release
VOUCHER REFERENDUM VALIDATED AT 97%
AS SECRETARY OF STATE APPROVES MORE THAN 108,000 SIGNATURES
Phoenix, AZ - On August 18, Save our Schools Arizona was informed the Arizona Secretary of State validated 108,224 voter signatures gathered as part of the citizen referendum on SB1431, the voucher expansion law. This equates to a 97 percent validity rate, and represents another crucial step toward putting the law on the November 2018 ballot.
Save our Schools Arizona's official reaction to the decision is as follows:
We are pleased the Secretary of State's office has shown a commitment to the laws of our state and the will of Arizona voters by validating the signatures of more than 108,000 voters and sending a 5 percent sample to the County Recorders for further processing. We expected nothing less from our state leadership.
Every one of those signatures is a testament to Arizona's commitment to strong public education. Every signature represents an Arizona parent, retiree and business owner who spent 90 days in the summer heat to stand up for our schools, for our students and for the future of our state. Every signature represents a rebuke of Gov. Ducey and the state lawmakers who chose profit over people.
We're also not surprised that national dark money groups have invested tens - if not hundreds - of thousands of dollars into trying to silence Arizona voters. It will continue. The national dark money groups that empowered Gov. Ducey and the state legislature to pass this law are relentless. Americans for Prosperity and the American Federation for Children don't care about Arizona families, our children, our schools or our state - they care only about advancing their national agenda and they have the money to do so. But today, the power of money paled in comparison to the power of the people.
That said, American Federation for Children and Americans for Prosperity will not back down. We will see this attack on Arizona voters resurrect itself in the courts. Theirs is a scorched earth policy to silence the voice of Arizona voters through pricey, frivolous lawsuits and baseless legal challenges. They will drag Arizona moms like Rebecca into court to shame her for standing up for her child's education. They will subpoena retirees like Arlene, an 84 year old from Mesa, and accuse her of fraud and petition doctoring. They will accuse and deride local business owners like Tom for defending the viability of his community. They will try to intimidate and defame Arizona families for their own political and financial gain, and it's our job to pay attention to these attacks.
But for now, the people of Arizona have claimed a massive victory. We have shown that the power of the people matters more than the power of the purse. At least 108,224 people to be precise. This is a battle won, but it's not the end. Save our Schools Arizona and the voters we represent have a long road ahead, and we intend to keep fighting for the rights of Arizona citizens every step of the way. We will never give up on the children of Arizona or the future of our state.
- End of Statement -
In 90 days, more than 2,500 regular Arizona voters fanned across the state collecting signatures at libraries, coffee shops, parks, and shopping centers. They worked day after day in 120 degree heat, through monsoon storms and around jobs, families, illness and family deaths.
Signatures were collected by Arizona citizens ranging from newly-registered 18 year olds to 84 year old retired teachers, Independents, Republicans and Democrats, teachers, parents, business owners and retirees whose personal history or children's education include neighborhood public schools, public charter schools, private schools and homeschooling.
SB1431 - the voucher expansion bill - was highly controversial throughout the 2017 Legislative Session. Despite unprecedented public opposition, the bill narrowly passed with both Democrats and Republicans voting against it. Gov. Doug Ducey signed it into law, promptly earning him praise from the Goldwater Institute, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and national dark money groups.
SB1431 takes tax dollars away from public schools. Ranging from $4,000 to $30,000 per child, per year, "Empowerment Scholarship Account" vouchers can be used to subsidize religious, private, or parochial schooling as well as homeschooling and any other expenses a family describes as "educational." Despite proven instances of fraud and mis-use in the existing voucher program, virtually no safeguards were added for transparency or accountability. SB1431 also includes no income cap, which allows tax dollars taken out of public schools to be used primarily by affluent families who leave high performing public schools.
For more information, call or text Dawn Penich-Thacker at 480-734-6904.
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