Governor Looks to Cut Back Republican School Program as Costs Explode Well Past Expectations

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Governor Katie Hobbs this week renewed her early discussions on trying to curb the growth of a statewide school program enacted this year, a program that has already grown well beyond expectations, costing the state around $900 million dollars.

Now, Hobbs will look to tame the school voucher program that has seen demand skyrocket, nearly doubling the funds originally allocated for the program in the 2024 budget.

Hobbs Looks to Bat Back Voucher Program

The statewide school voucher program, backed by Republicans in the state, especially by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne, provides a universal school voucher system that allows parents to use taxpayer dollars to send their children to schools outside of the public school system.

The program has been long hailed by Republicans as a means to save money for the state and provide parents with greater choice in where to send their children to school, but the massive demand for the vouchers has left the state in a difficult position, according to the program's opponents.

The Department of Education projected this week that 100,000 students will be enrolling in the program this fall, well beyond the expected number. That giant swell of students has led the department to estimate the costs of the program to reach around $900 million, almost double the allocation for 2024.

"We know that going into this it was going to be out of control and had the potential to bankrupt our state," Governor Hobbs said.

"Obviously this number wasn't published before the budget. We have a different set of facts we are dealing with now in terms of the actual cost," Hobbs added.

Republicans Cast Doubt on Expected Budget Crisis, Question Enrollment

While Hobbs looks to cut back on the program to try and maintain the state's budget, some Republicans have cast doubt on the possible crisis, questioning the actual number of enrollment projected by the Department of Education.

Speaker of the House Ben Toma says that the projection creates "natural skepticism" over the true number of enrollees, adding that the original number expected was around 68,000.

However, if the projection for 100,000 comes to fruition, it could push serious and dire pressure on the state budget, prompting cuts to programs that many citizens rely on.

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