Katie Hobbs hands the reins to teachers union in first State of the State address

PHOENIX — Democratic Governor Katie Hobbs delivered her first State of the State address Monday amid growing tensions with the Arizona state legislature.

The Democrat’s 40-minute address contained a wish-list of public policy items favored by the teachers union, including a clamp-down on Arizona’s popular school-choice program known as Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs).

“[T]he previous legislature passed a massive expansion of school vouchers that lacks accountability and will likely bankrupt this state,” Hobbs said.

She claimed that “shady corporations” are “taking advantage of the system and our students” and said “any school that accepts taxpayer dollars should have to abide by the same accountability standards that all district schools do.” The Democrat also called for a repeal of the Aggregate Expenditure Limit (AEL); a reversal of the process that ties education funding to “school letter-grades” and “assessment results”; and a “historic” increase in government spending, such as $40 million “to cover all students regardless of immigration status.”

In December, according to audio/video obtained by StopKatieHobbs.com, Arizona Education Association lobbyist Marisol Garcia acknowledged during a private event that Hobbs had struck a “deal” with the teachers union during her gubernatorial race and that “so far she is living up to that deal.” Garcia and Stephanie Parra, another longtime lobbyist for the teachers union, are both members of the governor’s transition team.

Immediately prior to Monday’s address, the Arizona Freedom Caucus announced the filing of a new lawsuit challenging the governor’s recent executive order, with a pledge of more accountability to come.