Kevin Welner has called "neo-vouchers." Such things as tuition tax credits, now available in almost a dozen states, create "scholarships" that students redeem at private schools, often religious in character. Arizona the leader in tuition tax credit programs has also created a neo-voucher known as Empowerment Scholarships. These Empowerment Scholarships are money that the state directly deposits into bank accounts from which parents can withdraw the funds to pay private school tutition. (That parents seem to be leaving the money in the account and saving it for college tuition later on is a slight glitch in the program that he legislature will take up someday.)
Now what makes the Empowerment Scholarship neo-vocuher go down so easily when the public has repeatedly choked on bald-face vouchers is that the Empowerment Scholarships have been restricted to groups of children whose circumstances tug at your heart strings. To qualify for an Empowerment Scholarship, a child must fall into one of the following categories:
House bills 2139 and 2150 sought to expand the Empowerment Scholarship program's coverage, and they have just been signed into law by the governor. HB2139 says that any sibling of a previous or current recipient is now qualified to receive an Empowerment Scholarship. What we are observing is neo-vouchers evolving into creeping-vouchers. But HB2150 either reaches the heights of empathy or sinks to a new low in cynicism. To the qualification that a child have a parent on active duty in the armed forces is added the phrase "or a parent who was killed in the line of duty." Just try and vote against that one, dear legislator.