Hobbs doesn’t seek to end school voucher program in new state budget

Gov. Hobbs discusses budget details at a May 7 news conference || Governor’s Office


Capitol Media Services Gov. Katie Hobbs speaks to a gathering of reporters during a press conference.|| Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services

 Gov. Katie Hobbs has given up on her demand to curb a program that allows any parent already sending their child to private or parochial schools to now get the bill picked up by taxpayers.

And that could leave her without the Democratic votes she needs for what Hobbs said is supposed to be a bipartisan budget.

A deal Hobbs negotiated with GOP leaders, unveiled Monday, continues in place the universal vouchers approved last year by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed into law by Doug Ducey, her GOP predecessor. In fact, the $17.8 billion spending plan does not even pause enrollment for what are known as “empowerment scholarship accounts.’’

Senate Minority Leader Mitzi Epstein said that’s going to be a hard sell for the Democrats.

“We are fighting tooth and nail’’ the Tempe Democrat told Capitol Media Services on Monday. “We are going to the mat for the people of Arizona and not let this fiscally imprudent, downright irresponsible idea go forward.’’

The key, Epstein said, is investing in public education so “all our kids can go to their dream school.’’

Hobbs brushed aside questions about agreeing to unlimited universal vouchers.

“I’m not going to negotiate the budget here,’’ she said.


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May 2023