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Hobbs ending $50M grant approved by Ducey administration

The governor said Wednesday she was recalling an agreement her predecessor approved that allocated $50 million to fund all-day kindergarten for ESA recipients.

PHOENIX — Gov. Katie Hobbs said Wednesday that federal funds her predecessor allocated for all-day kindergarten was an "invalid and illegal" use of the money.

In a statement, Hobbs said she was notifying the Arizona State Treasurer's Office that $50 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds distributed during Doug Ducey's administration was allegedly an improper allocation of the COVID relief funds.

The money was intended to fund all-day kindergarten for recipients of the Empowerment Scholarship Account program.

Hobbs claimed the ESA grant agreement violated multiple provisions of the state constitution, including Arizona's gift clause. 

"Today, we averted a violation of federal law and the State Constitution. In my administration, we are committed to deploying federal funds lawfully and equitably," Hobbs said in a statement.

A copy of Hobbs' letter to the Treasurer's Office is below:

Arizona Treasurer Kimberly Yee, a Republican, denounced the governor's decision, calling it "politically driven" and "belligerent." 

“It is clear Governor Hobbs does not care about what is best for Arizona kids or respect the rights of parents to determine the best environment to educate their child," Yee said in a statement.

Hobbs' office said it is finding alternative uses for the $50-million grant.

Wednesday's announcement is not the first time Hobbs has recalled federal funds Ducey allocated at the end of his term. 

In February, Hobbs recalled $210 million in ARPA grants because the money was allegedly given out without a competitive bidding process. 

A spokesperson for Ducey did not immediately have a response to Hobbs' statement.

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