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12:21 PM Thu, Nov. 15th

School voucher opponents want voters to get last word

PHOENIX – Foes of taxpayer funded school vouchers are now using paid circulators to boost the chances that voters get the last word on the legislatively approved expansion of the program.

Dawn Penich-Thacker, one of the organizers of the referendum drive, acknowledged Monday that Save Our Schools had planned to try to gather the 75,321 valid signatures needed by Aug. 8 purely with volunteers. They want to quash legislation that would make vouchers of state dollars available to parent of all students to send their children to private or parochial schools. She insisted they were on target to do that. But Penich-Thacker told Capitol Media Services the group has found itself with some unexpected money.

“We've had volunteers saying, ‘I can't give more hours but I'd love to donate if you're going to be hiring,’” she said.

And there's something else: It's apparently a relative bargain right now to find people willing to seek out petition signers. Last week the organizers of two separate petition drives over changes in laws governing the initiative process announced they were suspending their use of paid circulators.

"We got a smoking deal,'' Penich-Thacker said about getting the workers from those campaigns to come on board this campaign.