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Arizona Senate Panel Advances Bill To Allow Navajo Students To Use Education Vouchers Across State Lines

Published: Tuesday, February 4, 2020 - 5:37pm

Republicans on the Senate Education Committee advanced a bill to allow some Native American students to spend Arizona taxpayer dollars in New Mexico.

Sen. Sylvia Allen, the sponsor of SB 1224, said her bill is narrow in scope — it’s designed to allow 10 students on the Navajo Nation to attend school across the Arizona-New Mexico border.

The students have attended a school in New Mexico using their Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, the state’s voucher program, in violation of the law.

Allen’s bill carves out an exemption for students on Indian reservations to attend schools outside Arizona but within two miles of the state border.

The 6-3 party line vote to advance the bill came over the objections of the Legislature’s Indigenous People’s Caucus, whose members argued that the bill was a slippery slope that would lead to even more taxpayer-funded vouchers to be spent at schools outside of Arizona.

The bill still needs a vote in the full Senate and House. But if approved, Gov. Doug Ducey has said he’ll sign it.