Group will ask Arizona voters to ban expansion of state's school voucher program

The citizens' group behind the 2018 repeal of a Republican-backed expansion of Arizona’s school voucher program is launching another initiative aimed at permanently blocking efforts by GOP lawmakers and their allies to expand and reshape the program.

Fed up with piecemeal Republican legislation seeking to expand the program, Save Our Schools Arizona filed paperwork with the secretary of state on Wednesday to ask voters to place permanent restrictions on the Empowerment Scholarship Account program, the universal school-choice program heralded by conservatives as an alternative to public schools.

Arizona’s ESA program sends public money to parents that would otherwise go to local school districts and charter schools. Parents can use the money, distributed via debit cards, for private and religious school tuition, curriculum and other educational services.

The program has grown to more than $110 million a year, even as questions have persisted about state oversight, misspending and fraud.

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