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Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs Proposes Defunding School Choice, Border Strike Force

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


New Democrat Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs has proposed her new budget and it appears she will clash with the Republican legislature.

She unveiled the $17.1 billion budget proposal on Friday claiming that it would lower costs, Just The News reported.

“We have an opportunity to make a significant change in the lives of the families and communities of this state. We are committed to facing our challenges head on to build a resilient, innovative and prosperous Arizona for everyone,” the governor said.

She also said that her budget address the affordable housing crisis and secure Arizona’s water future.

The governor also proposed an end to the state’s Empowerment Scholarship program which has allowed parents to use a portion of the state funds allocated to their child’s education to pay for private school tuition and other educational expenses.

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Former Republican Gov. Doug Ducey wanted to expand the program, touted as one of the most comprehensive school choice programs in the United States.

Hobbs projects $144 million in savings in the coming fiscal year and $1.5 billion in taxpayer savings over $10 years. She proposes eliminating the funding from an “underreported and unnecessary use” and funneling that money into public schools.

Her office expects students to be forced back into public schools with the repeal of the ESA.

“With a repeal in FY 2024, the Executive forecasts an anticipated increase in student enrollment,” her budget presentation read.

In addition, she proposes requiring the state’s charter schools and any that accept ESA accounts to be subjected to the same requirements as public schools.

She also wants to defund the Border Strike Force which focuses on crimes at the border and transnational crimes.

“House Republicans are reviewing Governor Hobbs’ budget proposal but based on the left-wing wish list of spending details disclosed so far, I’m confident to say that it will be dead on arrival,” Republican House Speaker Ben Toma said.

In other news a state appeals court in Arizona has agreed to expedite a hearing into a lawsuit brought by former GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake alleging enough election improprieties in November to have cost her a victory against then-Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who has since been inaugurated as governor.

The decision by the Arizona Court of Appeals comes after the state Supreme Court rejected her case earlier this month and remanded it to be heard first in lower courts.

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The Epoch Times reports:

In a brief order, issued on Jan. 9 and made public the next day, the court ordered a reset of “the matter for conference on February 1, 2023,”  and agreed with Lake’s arguments that her challenge should be handled as a “special action petition.” The court date was reportedly scheduled for March.

Lawyers for Democrat Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs, the state’s former secretary of state, [have] until Jan. 17 to respond and argue why Lake’s challenge should be rejected, according to the order. Lake had petitioned both the state’s Appeals Court and Supreme Court after a Maricopa County judge rejected her case after a two-day trial in December.

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In an interview with the Salem News Channel on Friday, Lake also claimed that her legal team has “three whistleblowers in the signature verification department in Maricopa County who said that they were rejecting tens of thousands of signatures to the tune of up to 130,000 ballots that were being rejected for bad signatures, and somebody above them was sending them on through to be counted anyway.”

“Lake’s lawyers previously argued that those Maricopa officials allegedly ‘admitted, after first denying, that illegally misconfigured ballots were injected into the election’ and triggered the ‘tabulators to reject tens of thousands of ballots,’” The Epoch Times reported, citing court documents. “Lawyers stated Republican voters on Election Day were disproportionally impacted.”

Also Friday, Lake praised an Arkansas county court for its decision to reject electronic voting machines in all future elections, choosing instead to return to paper ballots in a move designed to boost election integrity and confidence in outcomes.

In a tweet lauding the decision by a Cleburne County court, Lake also included a link to a KARK report detailing the ruling:

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Officials with the Arkansas Voter Integrity Initiative Inc. (AVII) said the vote was in response to AVII CEO Colonel Conrad Reynolds’ push for election computers to be removed from Arkansas elections. The decision will now require votes to be hand counted. 

“The machines do not read the names on the ballots, instead, they scan barcodes, which humans cannot read,” Reynolds said. “They also utilize proprietary software that we are not allowed to examine. This all means voters cannot verify that their vote is being counted properly as mandated by state law.”

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