October 3, 2023
Gov. Katie Hobbs (D-AZ) issued a notice to the Arizona Treasury Department that $50 million previously granted to the state's Treasury was "illegal and invalid."

Gov. Katie Hobbs (D-AZ) issued a notice to the Arizona Treasury Department that $50 million previously granted to the state’s Treasury was “illegal and invalid.”

Then-Gov. Doug Ducey allocated the grant, comprising money from federal coronavirus funds, to the Empowerment Scholarship Account Program, which allows parents to use the money that would have gone to education taxes to send their child to the school of their choice. The additional $50 million was to fund full-day kindergarten, despite the fact that the state only funds half-day kindergarten for public schools. Now, Hobbs is considering “alternate uses” for the funds.


“Illegally giving $50 million to private schools while failing to properly invest in public education is just one egregious example of the previous administration’s blatant disregard for public school students,” Hobbs said in a statement Wednesday. “I will always fight to protect our public schools and work to give every Arizona student the education they deserve. Today, we averted a violation of federal law and the State Constitution. In my administration, we are committed to deploying federal funds lawfully and equitably.”

The average ESA spending for kindergartners with no disabilities for the current school year was between $4,000 and $5,000, according to the DOE estimates.

State schools chief Tom Horne issued a response Friday to clarify that the program remains unaffected for the moment.

“All day kindergarten was a project of Democrat Governor Janet Napolitano during my first term as Superintendent of Public Instruction. I agreed with the Governor, and this became a bi-partisan project at the legislature,” Horne’s statement read. “With all-day kindergarten, students learn to read in kindergarten and that gave them a head start in first grade. To eliminate funding for all-day kindergarten will reduce the academic performance of Arizona students which is the precise opposite of what government should be doing.”

Horne’s office clarified to the Washington Examiner that the treasurer’s office was the custodian of the funds and that it hadn’t released them to the DOE yet.


The Arizona Treasury Department did not respond to the Washington Examiner’s request for comment.

Treasurer Kimberly Yee went on the record on Thursday, calling Hobbs’s notice a “politically driven and belligerent decision.”

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