Horne believes Hobbs has shifted view on Arizona’s universal school voucher program

Jan 8, 2024, 12:00 PM

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne believes Gov. Katie Hobbs has shifted her view on th...

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne believes Gov. Katie Hobbs has shifted her view on the program for the better in the past year. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

(Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Despite not agreeing with most of Katie Hobbs’ universal school voucher program plan she released last week, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne does believe the governor has shifted her view on the program for the better in the past year.

Horne told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Monday he was pleased to see Hobbs’ plan call for improvements to the program rather than call for its repeal.

Hobbs, a Democrat, called to roll back the 2022 expansion of the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program in her 2023 executive budget.

“The good news is that the governor used to say she wanted to repeal the program,” Horne said. “Now that there are the families of 74,000 students in the program, which is a very large constituency, she’s proposing modifications, which I think is a step forward.”

Hobbs released an eight-point plan for the program she said she would make her No. 1 priority in the 2024 legislative session.

Among the points is Hobbs wanting educators at private schools that receive ESA funding to be required to pass a fingerprint background check. The governor also wants manual approval for purchases over $500 to ensure they are for academics and not for luxury.

Horne has already responded to some parts of the plan, which he believes has evolved in the past year.

Hobbs, in calling for a rollback on expansion of the program in her first State of the State address last year, said it will cost Arizona $1.5 billion over the next decade and “will likely bankrupt the state.”

Horne said he will follow any changes made to the program that now has more than 73,000 students participating.

“It’s up to [the Legislature],” Horne said. “If they do anything, I will follow it dutifully as the administrator.”

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Horne believes Hobbs has shifted view on Arizona’s universal school voucher program