Former Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce introduced a resolution for the Maricopa County Republican Party to censure three state lawmakers for opposing an amendment to a bill to expand school vouchers. The Maricopa County GOP will vote on whether to approve the resolution against State Rep. Joel John (R-Buckeye), State Rep. Joanne Osborne (R-Goodyear), and State Rep. Michelle Udall (R-Mesa) in January at its next meeting.
Bolick told The Arizona Sun Times, “The same House legislators who rolled the GOP House caucus on SCR 1044 voted against Arizona’s own families when they voted against my amendment. Yet they support reduced tuition for all illegals.”
Bolick is referring to how Udall brought SCR 1044 to the House floor for a vote, even though it did not have the votes and was not debated. If passed, it would have provided reduced college tuition for all illegal immigrants, not just Dreamers.
Entitled “In Support of Parental Involvement and Choice in Education,” Pearce’s resolution states that “[T]he Maricopa County Republican Party remains 100% committed to expanding school choice options for parents and students.” It declares, “[T]he Maricopa County Republican Party calls attention to, and opposes Republicans who campaign as conservatives while voting against school choice and against the best interests of students and parents – specifically Representatives Joanne Osborne, Michelle Udall, and Joel John.”
All three legislators are considered moderate Republicans. John received a 67 ranking from the Republican Liberty Caucus of Arizona for the 2021 legislative session, Osborne a 70, and Udall a 70.
The amendment would have expanded Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Account program to cover most public school students in the state. As many as 720,000 students in Title I schools would have become eligible, in part because it would expand those eligible to include children receiving free or reduced-price lunches. Children of veterans would also become eligible, and some of the hurdles to the program would be removed, such as the minimal time required to attend a public school first.
Currently, only 9,700 students are eligible. They are children with special needs, foster children, children on tribal reservations, children in failing schools, children of active-duty members of the military and children whose siblings are part of the program. Students receive 90% of the funding that would have gone to their school districts.
Liz Dreckman, president of the Arizona School Choice Trust, told The Center Square that this was something that was really needed due to the pandemic. “While charter and private schools stayed open the past year, many district schools stayed closed for more than a year without any options for many students,” she said.
Pearce’s resolution passed the Maricopa County Republican Committee’s Resolutions Committee unanimously or with only one nay vote. Pearce also introduced several other resolutions which also passed nearly unanimously. One censures Udall, who is running for state superintendent of education, on education due to her frequency of siding with Democrats.
Specifically, the resolution states that Udall killed a bill to require the Pledge of Allegiance or a moment of reflection in schools, refused to hear a bill that would have protected teachers from requiring them to call students by their chosen pronouns, blocked a bill that would have required teaching students about basic finances, and more.
In April, Udall tweeted that she supported school choice while discussing another bill. “Excited to allow more flexibility for schools to meet the needs of ALL students,” she said.
The Maricopa County Republican Party is known for its high-profile censures. In 2014, the party voted to censure the late Sen. John McCain with a 1,150-351 vote for abandoning Republican values. In January, they passed a resolution censuring former Sen. Jeff Flake 1,190 to 291.
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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at the Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Background Photo “Arizona Capitol” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.