PHOENIX, Arizona – Three Arizona House Republicans voted against an amendment to significantly expand school choice during Friday’s budget discussion. State Representatives Joel John (R-Buckeye), Michelle Udall (R-Mesa), and Joanne Osborne (R-Goodyear) all voted against the school choice legislation sponsored by State Representative Regina Cobb (R-Kingman) as amended by State Representative Shawnna Bolick (R-Phoenix).
HB 2898 as amended under Bolick would have added 14 provisions addressing Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) Program. In part, Bolick’s amendment would have opened up children of veterans and children in free or reduced-price lunch programs to ESAs, decreased the amount of time students must attend government schools full-time to be eligible for ESAs, allowed ESAs money to be used for educational therapies not covered by insurance and public transportation services, entitled children to equitable shares of funding otherwise allocated to school districts or charter schools for that child, and mandated the state to include ESA children in the statewide weighted student count for calculation of per pupil amount from the Classroom Site Fund (CSF).
Udall voiced her intent to vote against Bolick’s amendment on Thursday. Several Red For Ed activists had asked how she’d vote.
“I will not vote for voucher expansions – I have said that consistently,” said Udall.
When pressured by the activists about her support for tax cuts, however, Udall said that voting to reduce income tax would help schools by bettering the economy.
Arizona Senate passed a budget bill that would expand funding students instead of systems
Arizona Representative Michelle Udall (R) says she won't vote for the school choice expansion
The Arizona House has 31 Republicans and 29 Democrats.pic.twitter.com/Ez2yCnvnJn
— Corey A. DeAngelis (@DeAngelisCorey) June 25, 2021
Udall didn’t respond to The Arizona Sun Times request for comment by press time.
Apart from the failure of that school choice amendment, House Republicans managed to pass other education initiatives. This included a $12 billion allocation to public schools, over $900 million increased in state funding, and a ban on critical race theory.
— AZ House Republicans (@AZHouseGOP) June 25, 2021
The House finalized the last of the budget on Friday afternoon.
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