Arizona Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs, who narrowly defeated Republican nominee Kari Lake last fall, made it clear in her first State of the State address that public education will be her primary focus during her tenure.
Now, rubber meets the road as Hobbs vetoed the state legislature’s budget over disagreements on education funding.
Although the veto was expected, as the GOP has a narrow majority in both chambers, Hobbs tried to make a case against universal school vouchers. In a statement issued by Hobbs’ office, “Arizonans deserve a budget that takes the real issues they are facing seriously. This do-nothing budget kicks the can down the road and it’s an insult to Arizonans who need their leaders to address affordable housing, invest in public education, and put money back into their pockets.”
The state’s universal school voucher program, called the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA), was signed into law by former Gov. Doug Ducey, which would allow families to use around $6,500 per student from the public school system to fund a private school education. The Arizona Department of Education said that 47,000 Arizona students are using the vouchers so far.
Hobbs, in an interview with Fox News host Shannon Bream, struggled to articulate her case against universal school vouchers. When asked why she was against private schools when she went to private schools as a child, Hobbs said that her family made the decision to send her to a private Catholic school and it was not her decision. “I grew up in a working class family,” she said, “I begged them to send me to public school and we sacrificed a lot.” Hobbs added, “What I want is for every student in the state of Arizona …to have access to high-quality, public education.” When pressed by Bream about failing public schools and options for students at those schools, Hobbs responded, “The schools are failing because we’re failing to invest in them.”
The first-term governor claimed that the wealthy and rich families are using the school vouchers because other not-as-wealthy families can’t afford private school tuition with the school vouchers provided by the state.
If anything, Bream’s interview exposed Hobbs’ hypocrisy on private schools. Hobbs blamed her parents for making financial sacrifices to put her in a private Catholic school, but her anti-school voucher stance will not allow other parents to have the option to do the same for their children.