(VitalNews.org) – Democratic Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs got a $17 billion budget agreed on by a Republican state house, but leaders in her own party don’t like it.
Why not? Because it doesn’t limit the states giving “vouchers” to families who want to choose a private school over public offerings. Democrats claim the vouchers are a “drain” on what they believe are underfunded public schools. They do not appear to take into account that when the state “gives vouchers”, it is merely returning taxpayer money to those who paid it so they can choose their children’s schools.
Hobbs’s statements of dislike for the voucher program weren’t enough to quell in-party criticism. She said “I think we can agree that the voucher program is a drain on resources” that ought to go to government-run public schools, she said. But while ending the program was a goal, said Hobbs, she didn’t promise to do that in the current budget.
Hobbs assumed office at the beginning of 2023 with the aim of reversing the growth of Arizona’s voucher program started by her predecessor, Republican Governor Doug Ducey. She says that growth has diverted money from “underfunded” public schools, and would cost $1.5 billion over the next ten years.
It is not clear what “underfunded” might mean, or what level of funding would be considered adequate for public schools.
Democratic lawmakers did approve of some parts of Hobbs’s budget, especially its $300 million boost to K-12 public schools. They also gave a thumbs-up to the budget’s $150 million for low-income and transitional housing.
Phoenix Democratic Rep. Cesar Aguilar was not among budget fans. He said the financial package was a Republican offering. He said many Democrats helped elect Hobbs, but what they got in a budget package was what he would expect under a Republican Governor.
Republican Rep. Justin Heap took issue with the claim that vouchers were harming public education and said he does not believe it would bankrupt the state.
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