Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R) on Thursday pledged to defy an order from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, instructing Ducey to stop using COVID-19 relief to award grants to schools that do not have a mask mandate.
Calling the order from the Treasury Department “federal overreach,” Ducey explained that the two programs will continue, or he will challenge the Biden administration in court.
“We have no plan to address what they’re sending us,” Ducey told Fox 10. “That will be settled in court. We’re going to give options to kids in Arizona and to families in Arizona – what we should be focused on now is getting kids caught up.”
Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo on Tuesday penned a letter to Ducey, informing the Republican governor that the grants were “not a permissible use” of the relief aide.
“In Arizona, our kids are going to have a choice on where they go to school, and that’s where those dollars are going to go,” Ducey said, noted by The Arizona Republic. “If the Biden administration wants to challenge us in court, we’ll see you there”
Previously, Ducey established The COVID-19 Educational Recovery Benefit program, which provided up to $7,000 per student for parents “who are facing financial and educational barriers due to unnecessary closures and school mandates and that are not in compliance with the provisions set forth in state law.”
Additionally, the Education Plus-Up Grant Program aimed to boost per pupil spending for school systems that did not have mask or vaccine requirements by providing $163 million in grants.
According to The Republic, if courts side with the federal government, Ducey explained that he will use state funds to continue the grants.
“We’re confident that we’re on a solid legal foundation for the decision that we made to help educate our kids and catch them up,” Ducey detailed. “And if we’re not, then we’ll just appropriate out of the state legislature.”
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