For immediate release: October 11, 2023
Contact: [email protected] (Horne)
[email protected] (Petersen)
[email protected] (Toma)
Superintendent Horne, Senate President Petersen and Speaker Toma issue response to Governor’s recent claims about Empowerment Scholarship Account costs
PHOENIX – Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne, Senate President Warren Petersen and Speaker Ben Toma have issued the following joint statement in response to Governor Hobbs’ recent claims regarding the costs of the Empowerment Scholarship Account program.
Superintendent Horne stated, “The Governor’s calculation is in error. She is counting the $7,200 paid for each ESA student without offsetting the $13,000 paid per student that would otherwise be spent for that student to attend a public school. The overall numbers bear this out as the expenditures for all public school spending, including the ESA program are $72 million below budget.”
Senate President Petersen said, “Arizona families want choices for their children's education. ESAs are one of many choices the Legislature is prioritizing. The fact is, we budgeted for the 68,000 kids currently enrolled and have responsibly planned for incremental spending increases for this program in the years to come, as we do with a variety of other programs in our overall budget. We're always open to improving our state’s programs, but for the sake of Arizona families who want to choose the best educational settings to meet their children’s needs, ESAs are here to stay.”
He added, “Unfortunately, the immediate crisis negatively impacting our budget is the skyrocketing inflation caused by reckless policies being pushed by Democrats at the federal level. This is crushing Arizonans’ ability to have discretionary income. As a result, many of our citizens are struggling to pay for basic necessities, they’re spending much less, and now our state is limited in the tax revenues we’re able to generate. We will evaluate ways to cut spending to accommodate any budget shortfall, but our school choice program will not be on the chopping block.”
Speaker Toma stated, "Governor Hobbs continues to blast the ESA program as unsustainable and exceeding estimates. Neither are true. We remind the Governor that she leads the entire state of Arizona, and if she seeks changes to the ESA program, she ought to propose serious policies, not tweet vague threats. The State Legislature has yet to see any policy proposals from her office. Arizona will continue to responsibly fund students, not systems."