In a recent article titled “Arizona governor touts misleading narrative on Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Program” , author Matthew Ladner, Ph.D exposes the distortions and misleading arguments presented in Governor Katie Hobbs’ recent memo on Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs). Ladner’s analysis reveals that Hobbs is peddling misinformation, and her misrepresentations serve to unfairly malign a program aimed to empower students and provide educational freedom.
Hobbs paints a “frightening” picture of the costs involved with ESAs by assuming that almost 100,000 students will enroll, leading to a $943.8 million expense. However, with less than 60,000 currently receiving ESA scholarships long after the private school enrollment period, it is unlikely the total will come anywhere near 100,000. Even if it did, the cost would be merely 1% of Arizona’s overall state expenditures:
“The Hobbs memo assumes that almost 100,000 students will sign up for ESAs, generating a frightening estimate of a $943.8 million cost. This number may seem daunting until placed into context: Arizona spent over $80.5 billion in fiscal year 2022. This means even the exaggerated ESA cost estimate (more on that below) represents approximately 1% of state expenditure.”
The memo also falsely portrays private school students as a new financial burden to the state, conveniently ignoring the fact that most were already receiving financial support indirectly through a tax credit program:
“The Hobbs memo states: “The passage of universal ESAs includes non-state aid district students, existing private school students, and homeschool students, all of which did not previously receive any State funding. This represents an estimated 40,400 students who would be funded fully through the General Fund under the updated projections.” Private school students in Arizona, however, were already receiving financial assistance indirectly from the scholarship tax credit programs and thus it is entirely inappropriate to score them as a new cost to the state.”
Even if we were to accept Hobbs’ exaggerated estimates, Arizona taxpayers would still significantly benefit when one considers, not only the state portion of funding, but local and federal tax dollars as well. A student with an ESA costs taxpayers about $7,000 compared to the more than $14,000 total cost to educate a student in public school.
“Even taking this far-more-than-worst-case scenario at face value – 100,000 students at a cost of $943.8 million dollars – Arizona taxpayers still have nothing to fear. For instance, state taxpayers provided the Mesa Unified School District $795.7 million dollars to educate 55,000 students last year. The more-than-worst-case scenario ESA program would, in other words, educate an additional 45,000 students for an additional cost of only $148 million – a fraction of what taxpayers would pay to educate those same students in a district school.”
Read the entire article HERE