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The state of Arizona plans to file suit against the Biden administration over the withholding of taxpayer funds for refusing to implement a school mask mandate.
GOP Gov. Doug Ducey discussed the action with Fox News host Martha MacCallum on Friday after the administration threatened to cut COVID-19 relief funding to the state for its refusal to mandate kids wear masks while attending in-person classes.
Ducey argued that state officials know best where education dollars should be spent, such as helping students get caught up academically, particularly in low-income areas after two years of on-again, off-again, in-person education during the pandemic.
#BREAKING: Arizona Gov. @DougDucey tells @MarthaMacCallum that his state will be suing the Biden administration for having threatened to pull their COVID-19 funds because they won't implement a state-wide school mask mandate. pic.twitter.com/14bwDVyxEa
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) January 21, 2022
Introducing the segment, MacCallum quoted a letter from state Attorney General Mark Brnovich, which said:
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the U.S. Department of Treasury … is again trying to overstep its Constitutional bounds and dictate Arizona how our state should run and fund our schools.
The host then brought in Ducey, asking him, “What is the next move with Arizona and the federal government on this fight?”
“Arizona is going to file a lawsuit against the Biden administration, against this federal overreach and continued bullying and attacks on our state,” Ducey began.
“We are going to use the dollars that Congress has appropriated to catch our kids up in school. We want the dollars to go to the families that need to get their child inside a classroom, that is functioning, with the teacher in front,” he continued.
“Joe Biden needs to focus on the border or helping Ukraine or fixing Afghanistan. Why doesn’t he stay in his federal lane and let us educate the children in the state of Arizona?”
Continuing, MacCallum opined that President Biden only seems interested in pursuing action against states like Arizona — most of which are run by Republicans.
“What I find fascinating about this is the $182 billion that went to school systems across the country and supposed to use it for testing and mitigation,” MacCallum noted. “President Biden said, ‘We weren’t too happy with what happened to some of the money. Once we give it to them, it’s their money to spend the way they want.’ Why is it the only place that they’re watching where the money goes is Arizona?”
“There’s been no accountability to the unions for the amount of money that they’ve been given. They continue to focus on Arizona,” Ducey responded.
“For some reason, this president is obsessed with masks and with mandates. He has a very little focus on math or reading or writing. That’s what we’re trying to get our kids caught up along with American civics so they can understand federalism. This president needs a lesson in it,” the GOP governor continued.
Ducey also said that his state planned to offer programs over the coming summer to give students the opportunity to catch up on some of the learning they missed out on during pandemic-related school closures and extended periods of remote learning. He said the objective is to make federal taxpayer funding portable so that parents could select the learning scenario best for their own kids.
“In Arizona, we’re getting them back in the classroom with a teacher at the head of the classroom. If a school system will not work with us, we’re giving family flexible – families flexible dollars to go anywhere in the state to serve their child well,” said Ducey.
Earlier this month, a federal judge blocked the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for Head Start teachers and students.
The preliminary injunction by U.S. District Judge Terry A. Doughty, in a challenge brought by 24 states, also blocks the mandate’s requirement that Head Start students age 2 or older wear masks while indoors or in close contact with others.
“If the executive branch is allowed to usurp the power of the legislative branch to make laws, then this country is no longer a democracy — it is a monarchy,” U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty wrote in a 32-page order.