Arizona’s school voucher program is projected to cost $900 million this year. In her inauguration, Governor Katie Hobbs promised to hold the program accountable and revise rules that allow for practically unlimited groundwater use in the drought-stricken state’s rural sections.
A major port of entry along the Arizona-Mexico border was closed for one month owing to an influx of immigrants, and she blamed the federal government for this. The soaring expenses of a voucher program expansion in 2022 and a tax cut in 2021 that went into full force last year and cut incoming tax revenues by approximately 30% from July to November are the leading causes of the state’s $400 million shortfall in the current budget year and an additional $450 million deficit in the next year.
Democratic legislators recognize the tax reduction is unlikely to be repealed, but they are determined to reform the voucher program. To ensure that prescription pharmaceuticals remain affordable, Hobbs proposed establishing a new department inside the state government to monitor drug pricing, implement price caps on insulin and other regularly used drugs, and avoid excessive price increases. A new mortgage aid program for working-class families was one of her pledged steps to address Arizona’s housing issue.
Amid a devastating and protracted drought in the arid southwest state, water will also be a significant concern for lawmakers. About 40% of Arizona’s water comes from the Colorado River system, so the state is understandably worried about potential shortages in the future. Hobbs pledged to do more this year to safeguard water after her previous raid on a Saudi-operated farm, which locals were worried was draining groundwater for water-hungry alfalfa crops, was highlighted.
Hobbs opposes the school voucher program, which allows parents to utilize public funds to pay for private school tuition and other educational expenses. Opponents of the expansion argue that it would burden the state, while supporters say that it will give parents more freedom to pick the best school for their children.
Hobbs’ proposals to alter the voucher program are specific to fail in Congress, according to Senate Appropriations Committee head and Republican John Kavanagh.