The proposal that has languished for weeks reappeared after a Republican
The governor wrote: “
If approved, the program would give
The law is moving through at a time when there's considerable momentum behind school choice on a national level, punctuated by the confirmation of
Technically called Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, the program allows parents to take between 90 and 100 percent of the state money a local public school would receive to pay for private or religious education. The average student who isn't disabled will get about
The new proposal also places a growth cap on the program that would allow at most 30,000 children by 2022 and beyond. Although the program is open to all
The original proposal pushed in the
The measure had been stalled for nearly two months as opposition from a handful of
“The fear that this cap is trying to address is a runaway program that will deplete our general fund,” Democratic Sen.
Worsley said he stepped in to be an honest broker between competing interests and insisted on a hard enrollment cap and cost savings.
“I am not a proponent of ESAs and I am not a proponent of no ESAS,” Worsley said. “I'm simply a senator trying to find a pragmatic solution between two warring factions.”
Since the initial program was adopted in 2011, it has expanded to cover about a third of all students, including children attending failing schools, those living on Indian reservations, foster children and children of military members.
Despite those increases, the program has remained relatively small, but expanding it to all students would allow parents who now send their children to private schools to use the program.
The state pays parent 90 percent of the money paid to a public or charter school for private school tuition or other education costs. The new proposal raises that to 100 percent for low-income students.
Ducey said at a January school choice event that he'll continue to be an advocate for using state tax money for charter and private schools and home-schooling. That's despite low funding for public schools in the state.
“What I want a parent to be able to do is send a child to a school of their choice, and when we have opportunities to improve on that we're going to do that,” Ducey said at the time.
Ducey proposed a 2 percent raise for teachers over five years in his budget, a figure that has been widely panned by education advocates.
“I was really surprised to hear that the governor was making this a priority,” said