Voucher plan likely to die; study deems it ineffective

By Zachary Thomas

Arizona Daily Wildcat

A higher education voucher proposal is not even expected to make it to the floor of the state Legislature.

"It's my belief that there will be no action taken to provide funding for a voucher system," said Republican Senator Carol Springer, who represents Yavapai and Mohave counties and is co-chair of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee.

The proposal, initially included in the fiscal year 1995-96 appropriations bill, calls for $1,000 to $1,500 vouchers for any Arizona students attending or wishing to attend private colleges.

Designed to relieve the enrollment strain of an estimated 50,000-student increase at Arizona state universities over the next 20 years, the voucher proposal was relegated to the committee last year for further research.

"Originally, the concept was to consider some alternatives in order to reduce the cost of higher education," Springer said.

However, a recent feasibility study concluded that vouchers would be ineffective because the drop in public university enrollment would be insignificant, as Arizona has a limited number of private colleges. J.B.L. Associates of Bethesda, M.D., and faculty at the University of Washington and the University of New Orleans conducted the study.

"Arizona has a tradition of public education," said Christine Thompson, UA director of the Arizona Students Association and political science senior. "In other states that have this type of program, they have a lot of private colleges."

The program would include students already enrolled in private post-secondary institutions. According to the study, it would not sway many away from public universities, and could take money away from existing university funds.

"Where this money would come from and how it would affect the universities is unclear," Thompson said.

"This would not work in our state," Thompson said. "One of the only ways to make this program feasible would be to raise tuition."

The budget committee will meet again in mid-December to formally decide the issue.

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