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AZ’s Governor Wants to Rip Away Funding from 30,000 Students

January 13, 2023

Here’s the bad news: Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs wants to rip funding away from tens of thousands of families seeking educational options through the state’s Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program.

Here’s the good news: She can’t.

Hobbs’ newly released state budget plan proposes nearly eliminating funding for the state’s ESA program, which offers Arizona children scholarships of roughly $7,000 per child per year to pursue the educational option of their choice. The ESA program has served thousands of families over the past decade, with thousands more signing up since last year after Governor Doug Ducey signed into law the expansion of ESA eligibility for all Arizona kids.

But now, the Hobbs administration has declared that its “Executive Budget repeals the universal expansion,” throwing off over 30,000 Arizona students. Fortunately, as the governor’s team admits near the bottom of its 500-page budget plan, the governor has no such unilateral power to do this. And the Goldwater Institute will defend parents and families from any effort to illegally undermine or restrict access to this program through executive action.

Policymakers should remember that the only Arizona incumbent to lose a statewide race (of either party) in Arizona this past cycle was the left-leaning champion of the teachers unions who opposed school choice and ESAs, and who voters replaced with State Superintendent Tom Horne, who has pledged to uphold and protect the program. And fortunately, the continued distribution of funds for ESA families rests squarely with the offices of Superintendent Horne and school choice champion Treasurer Kimberly Yee—neither of whom report to the governor.

Arizona families should take heart that thanks to the rule of law, the statutory protections of the ESA program mean these families will continue to be fully funded going forward. But they should also take note and remember who is fighting for—or against—them.

Matt Beienburg is the Director of Education Policy at the Goldwater Institute. He also serves as director of the institute’s Van Sittert Center for Constitutional Advocacy.



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