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Gov. Hobbs wants to repeal universal expansion of Arizona's school voucher program

By Bridget Dowd
Published: Friday, January 13, 2023 - 3:46pm

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Democratic Governor Katie Hobbs released her executive budget on Friday, Jan. 13.
Bridget Dowd/KJZZ
Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs released her executive budget on Friday, Jan. 13.

Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs released her executive budget Friday afternoon.

She wants to repeal the universal expansion of Arizona’s school voucher program, which was adopted by Republicans last year.

According to the governor’s staff, if not repealed, the 2022 expansion of Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Account program will cost $1.5 billion over the next ten years.

They says about 75% of the families newly enrolled under expanded vouchers would have attended a private or homeschool anyway.

A significant portion of the remaining 25%, students who have attended public schools in the past, are from wealthy areas that don’t receive state aid because of high property tax revenues. 

That means there’s minimal cost savings to the state from children leaving public schools for ESAs, and more state tax dollars are needed to cover the cost of universal vouchers.

Republican Sen. T.J. Shope called the proposal “hysterical.”

“What about the 30% that weren’t [already attending private schools]? We’re gonna take it away from them? I don’t think that’s going to be a winning argument there," Shope said. "I don’t believe that those folks will just go ahead and drift quietly into the night.”

Hobbs also wants to add a requirement that ESA funded schools be held to the same reporting requirements as district schools.