State Capitol News
8:08 am
Fri May 16, 2008

Court says school vouchers illegal

Phoenix, AZ – The state Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that a law which gives tax dollars to parents to send their children to private and parochial schools is illegal. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer reports.

In a unanimous decision the judges said the 2006 law runs afoul
of a constitutional provision which specifically bars the use of
state funds to aid these kind of schools. They said while the
Legislature sets state policy, even lawmakers have to live within
the constitution. Attorney Tim Keller of the Institute for
Justice said the judges got it wrong when they concluded the
vouchers aid the schools.

(In this case the aid goes to parents and children, not to
private schools. Any benefit to the schools is purely incidental.
The legislative intent was clearly to help out disadvantaged kids
and their parents find the best education possible.)

Ron Johnson who lobbies for the state's three Catholic bishops
and the schools they operate said there is nothing wrong with
helping parents pay for a private education -- even one that
provides religious instruction.

(They're getting basically a quality education in essentially the
same subjects that the other schools are offering, too. The fact
that they may at the end of the day or the beginning of the day
or sometime also include some sort of other religious component
as an add-on to the rest of their substantive materials to me
doesn't seem to be a problem.)

Supporters of vouchers have vowed an appeal to the state Supreme
Court.

For Arizona Public Radio, this is Howard Fischer.