Arizona schools chief Horne says voucher program sustainable as critics fight back

Jul 27, 2023, 2:11 PM | Updated: 2:17 pm

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)...

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — Arizona schools chief Tom Horne is steadfast the state’s universal voucher program that continues to be the subject of criticism is sustainable.

Horne told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Thursday that more lower economic groups taking advantage of empowerment scholarship accounts what will make the program last.

“The trend has been more to people in the lower economic levels and if that trend continues there, there’ll be no additional cost because if a student leaves public school for a private school, it’s a wash,” Horne said.

Critics, most notably Gov. Katie Hobbs, don’t believe in the program’s long-term future or its ability to save taxpayers money, even if low-income families continue using it.

Hobbs, in a Tuesday memo, said the program could cost taxpayers over $934 million, with 53% of all new K-12 education spending going toward only 8% of Arizona’s students.

Beth Lewis, executive director of nonprofit Save our Schools Arizona, agrees with Hobbs.

Increased costs for ESA accounts would only take away tax dollars from other services, according to Lewis.

“I think folks need to know that that either means they’re going to have to raise taxes for this program or it’s going to cut into public services that our state funds like roads, public safety and public schools,” Lewis told The Mike Broomhead Show on Thursday. “Those are the options.”

Horne believes universal school choice is the way forward and plans to proceed full speed with it.

“My job is to help improve our public schools and encourage excellence in our public schools and we have excellent public schools,” Horne said.

“Even a good school doesn’t necessarily meet the needs of all the students. And if a student’s need is not being met, the parents should have the ability to find a school where the student’s needs will be met.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Downtown Phoenix skyline...

Weekend wrap-up: Here are the biggest Arizona stories from Sept. 30-Oct. 1

In case you missed it. Here are some of the biggest stories that headlined the Arizona news cycle over the weekend.

3 hours ago

A damaged saguaro cactus stands with a recently fallen arm resting on the sidewalk on Aug. 2, 2023,...

Associated Press

Arizona’s biggest city has driest monsoon season since weather service began record-keeping in 1895

After a summer of extreme heat, Arizona’s most populous city is in the record books again. This time Phoenix is notching a record for dry heat.

5 hours ago

King Ranch Goodyear...

Brandon Gray

Harvard Investments acquires master-planned King Ranch community land in Goodyear for $22M

Real estate investment and development company Harvard Investments announced Friday it acquired the master-planned King Ranch community in Goodyear. 

6 hours ago

File photo of a Mesa Police patrol vehicle. A man was killed in a shooting involving Mesa officers ...

Mesa police pursuit ends with suspect being seriously injured in Tempe

A 21-year-old suspect was seriously injured after being involved in a critical incident with Mesa police Saturday night near a Tempe intersection, according to officials. 

9 hours ago

D1Training athletes...

Former youth coaches bring open group fitness to Mesa with D1Training franchise

On Oct. 9, D1Training will have a new franchise in East Mesa near Crismon Road and Southern Avenue led by two former youth coaches.

14 hours ago

(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)...

Kim Komando

Shopping under surveillance: How retailers track you & how to be invisible

If you have a pulse and an internet connection, companies want all the details they can get on what you’re willing to buy — and it’s getting harder to tell where they’re getting all that info.

14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Ignite Digital

How to unlock the power of digital marketing for Phoenix businesses

All businesses around the Valley hopes to maximize their ROI with current customers and secure a greater market share in the digital sphere.



At Ability360, every day is Independence Day

With 100 different programs and services, more than 1,500 non-medically based home care staff, a world-renowned Sports & Fitness Center and over 15,000 people with disabilities served annually, across all ages and demographics, Ability360 is a nationwide leader in the disability community.


OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

5 mental health myths you didn’t know were made up

Helping individuals understand mental health diagnoses like obsessive compulsive spectrum disorder or generalized anxiety disorder isn’t always an easy undertaking. After all, our society tends to spread misconceptions about mental health like wildfire. This is why being mindful about how we talk about mental health is so important. We can either perpetuate misinformation about already […]

Arizona schools chief Horne says voucher program sustainable as critics fight back