Last year, then-Governor Doug Ducey (R) signed legislation making every public school student in the state eligible for Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) vouchers. More than 45,000 are now enrolled in the program.
But last week, Democrats in the Arizona Legislature gave Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) a standing ovation when she denounced the expanded school-choice program in a state of the state speech. The scholarship program, she warned, could "bankrupt the state."
Her executive budget released Jan. 13 asked state legislators to reverse the state's expansion of the ESAs.
The Heritage Foundation's Jason Bedrick says Gov. Hobbs is simply wrong.
"There was a report recently by the Common Sense Institute that found that due to enrollment shifts, the state is saving more than $500 million … from students switching from the public sector to the private sector or to charter schools," Bedrick relays.
He submits that Hobbs' proposal has little to do with saving money.
"Gov. Hobbs has been tied to the teachers' union for a long time," the research fellow points out. "She even put the president of the state chapter of the Arizona Education Association on her transition team, along with some other union types. She owes them political favors, and so she's coming after the program."
House Speaker Ben Toma (R) has already indicated that the Hobbs' budget will be "dead on arrival."