Stakeholders in the policy world reacted to the compromise budget that passed the Arizona State Legislature this week and will likely be signed by Gov. Katie Hobbs.
While the budget had concessions from both sides, the most notable was that a cap or major cuts to the Universal Empowerment Scholarship Account program was not included.
Save Our Schools Arizona, a teacher union-aligned group that stood against the school choice legislation signed into law last year by former Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, was heavily critical of the budget.
“AZ House passes the K-12 budget 43-16, betraying AZ public schools by failing to cap the universal ESA vouchers that threaten to bankrupt AZ,” the group tweeted Wednesday. “Thank you to the 16 #PublicSchoolProud lawmakers who took a principled stand by voting NO. Fighting for what’s right matters.”
Meanwhile, the Arizona Education Association and Stand for Children Arizona took similar stances but generally praised the budget.
“There’s a lot to like in the 2023 state budget – and one major disappointment,” the teachers union said in a statement.
“We hope that policymakers will tear up this blank check and address these concerns,” Stand for Children Arizona said in their statement on the school choice program.
The Arizona Chamber of Commerce said while they’re satisfied a budget got passed despite the tensions between Republicans and Democrats at the Capitol, they’re concerned about the pork in the bill.
Chamber President and CEO Danny Seiden told KTAR News on Wednesday that it is “loaded with pork barrel earmarking” that has things that would be better delegated to local governments than the state.
As this is the governor’s first year in office, it’s likely that the ESA program will continue to be a topic of debate in the next legislative session with the Republican majority, and if they continue to hold it past 2024.
Republished with the permission of The Center Square.