For immediate release: January 30, 2024
Contact: [email protected]
Horne: State funding for education, including ESAs, has multi-million-dollar surplus
Source of state budget crunch lies elsewhere
PHOENIX – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne has released a report for all state education funding, including the Empowerment Scholarship Account Program, that shows a projected total surplus of more than $28 million through the remainder of the 2024 state Fiscal Year that ends June 30.
Horne stated, “The myth that the ESA program is doing damage to the state’s budget is thoroughly demolished. Importantly, 59 percent of current ESA students come from public school or are Kindergartners or preschoolers with disabilities who would normally be in public school, which would be a major cost to the state. Whatever budget issues state lawmakers are facing this year, they have not been created by the ESA program or any other aspect of basic state aid for education.”
Horne added, “Critics who falsely claimed ESAs were the cause of the budget deficit erroneously counted the gross cost for each student without adjusting for the cost that would be incurred if those students were in public school. While approximately 75,000 students are in the ESA program, 1.2 million are in public schools, which means the ESA students are not a threat to those schools. ESAs give choice to parents at any income level whose child’s needs are not being met in local schools, an ability rich parents have always had.”
He continued, “Since taking office a year ago I have required that every expense request, no matter how small or large, be reviewed. Unlike my predecessor, we do not approve frivolous requests that have no educational purpose. I hired an auditor to oversee the finances and he is now the director of the entire program. In recent months we reviewed more than 250,000 orders, rejecting more than 12,000 of them. The fact there is a surplus in basic state aid, including the ESA program, demonstrate our commitment to good financial stewardship.”