Arizona governor vows to rein in skyrocketing school voucher program, update groundwater laws

By Jacques Billeaud and Anita Snow for AP

Washington D.C. 

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs has vowed to bring accountability to a school voucher program that’s expected to top $900 million this year and update laws that allow for the nearly unfettered use of groundwater in rural areas of the drought-stricken state.

The Democratic governor, making her second annual state of the state address Monday as the Legislature began its regular session, also leveled criticism at the federal government. She blamed it for closing a key port of entry along the Arizona-Mexico border for one month because of a surge of immigrants and touted her decision to send National Guard members to the international boundary in response to the crisis.

The state is facing a $400 million shortfall in this current budget year and another $450 million deficit in the coming year. Those numbers are mainly due to the skyrocketing costs of a 2022 expansion of the voucher program and a 2021 tax cut that took full effect last year and reduced incoming tax revenues by about 30% from July through November.

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