Save Our Schools Arizona (SOS) and some Dem lawmakers were up in arms last week. And anytime that happens, you know you’re probably doing something right.
Last Wednesday, the Republican-led legislature passed the $17.8 billion budget, and it was a big win for students, parents, school choice, and Arizona’s taxpayers. Despite the fact that Governor Katie Hobbs made it clear that she planned to dismantle school choice for all with a full repeal of the beloved Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESA), Hobbs signed the budget without any cap or restrictions on the historic program. This should be cause for celebration—unless, of course, you’re SOS or certain Democrat lawmakers.
Predictably, SOS got right to work on spreading lies about the popular ESA program, claiming it would drain K-12 public schools of funding, hurt Arizona’s economy, and even bankrupt the state. That last lie is particularly absurd, but then again SOS has a history of such desperation when its back is against the wall. (Can you imagine being this bent out of shape that children from all walks of life can get an education that best fits their needs?)
The reality is that the ESA program has absolutely exploded during this fiscal year…
Arizona taxpayers are going to get some extra cash for the holidays thanks to Republicans giving back from this fiscal year’s budget.
Included in the Fiscal Year 2023 Arizona Budget was the insertion of the Arizona Families Tax Rebate. According to a release from Arizona Freedom Caucus Chairman and Senator Jake Hoffman, “Arizona families can expect to receive one-time tax rebates of up to $750 for qualifying households. Those with dependents under the age of 17 will receive $250 per dependent, or those with dependents 17 and older will receive $100 per dependent, capped at three dependents. Households must have a tax liability of at least $1 in order to be eligible. This criterion is based off of 2021 state tax returns.”
Hoffman explained the motivation for the tax rebate, writing, “Gas, groceries, housing and energy prices have surged over the past three years since Democrats took control of the federal government. As a result, Arizona families are hurting while they attempt to pay for the most basic necessities each month, like putting food on the table, keeping a roof over their heads, paying medical bills, keeping the lights on and filling up their gas tanks. In the meantime, government is flush with cash and in the position to give back to our honest, hardworking taxpayers.”
“This is the first time in at least 30 years our state lawmakers have been able to step up to the plate to provide a tax rebate of this magnitude for our citizens,” said Hoffman. “I’m proud of the leadership of the Arizona Freedom Caucus, and for the support of our Republican colleagues, to dedicate $260 million to helping struggling Arizona families. Despite the current economic uncertainty, the Arizona Freedom Caucus, and conservative Republicans at-large, remain fully committed to keeping Arizona free, vibrant, and prosperous for Arizona families, and all Arizonans, for generations to come. We hope this extra money will make life a little less stressful for our Arizona families as they approach the Christmas holiday season later this year.”
This tax rebate appeared to be the focus of discontentment from some Democrats at the state legislature. Earlier in the week, Representative Oscar De Los Santos took to Twitter to share his thoughts about the recently negotiated budget, saying, “Important context missing from AZ budget debate: Years of massive GOP corporate tax giveaways have resulted in AZ not having the resources – this year & in the future – we need to fund our schools, ensure housing & healthcare for all, solve the water crisis, and more.”
De Los Santos’ charge led Republican Representative Justin Heap to respond: “By ‘corporate tax giveaways’ do you mean the ‘Family Tax Rebate’ that will give every Arizona family with children a check? Leave it to Democrats to characterize giving some of their tax money back to Arizona families as ‘tax giveaway.’ It’s not our money, it’s theirs.”
The pushback from Heap led another Democrat lawmaker, Representative Athena Salman, to add, “That’s false. Your rebate program leaves out families like mine who started and grew our families after 2022. Plus non-tax filers. Go read the bill, it’s short.”
Scot Mussi, the President of the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, told AZ Free News, “we were very pleased to see the budget not only be structurally balanced, but also return nearly $300 million back to taxpayers. That money belonged to hardworking families, and we are glad it’s getting returned to them.”
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.