By Terri Jo Neff |
An expansion of Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program has long been a cornerstone platform issue for Conservative lawmakers. And on Saturday, Gov. Doug Ducey made comments which have supporters believing he will sign into law what he called “the most expansive school choice legislation in the nation.”
House Bill 2853 creates a roughly $7,000 education credit for each of the 1.1 million K-12 student in Arizona to attend any school of their choice, whether it be a public, private or charter school, or even homeschooling. Ducey has called passage of the bill sponsored by House Majority Leader Ben Toma (R-Peoria) a “monumental moment for Arizona’s kids and families.”
That sentiment was shared by the Goldwater Institute, which noted Arizona’s new universal ESA expansion provides school choice for all students and “empowers families to choose the best schooling option for their children regardless of their zip code.”
HB2853 will take effect on behalf of the state’s more than 1.1 million students a mere 90 days after signed by the governor. The credit, which is paid out as scholarships, can be used for expenses such as tuition and tutoring, transportation, education tools (i.e. textbooks and computers), and other costs directly related to supporting a student’s educational needs.
Among those across the country recognizing the legislative victory in Arizona is former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a longtime advocate of ESA programs.
In addition, Corey A. DeAngelis of the Washington DC-based American Federation for Children tweeted about the bill which now allows all Arizona families to direct their student’s ESA dollars to the educational institution that can best serve the student.
However, organizations such as Save Our Schools have threatened to push back on the new legislation if Ducey signs it. The group advocates for funding the needs of public school systems instead of the needs of individual students, even when a family has determined a private, charter, or home school situation is better for the student than a public school setting.
EDITOR NOTE: The original article has been updated to reflect that Gov. Ducey has not yet signed HB2853 despite his public comments in support of the legislation.