Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona signed a universal education savings account (ESA) bill into law Thursday night, making Arizona the second state to pass a universal ESA program.
However, Arizona may be the first state to actually implement a universal ESA as the Nevada Supreme Court struck down the Silver State’s funding mechanism last year. ESAs in the Grand Canyon State have already survived a constitutional challenge.
Although the program is theoretically universal, with 1.1 million students in the state eligible, it will allow only limited growth until it reaches a cap of 30,000 students by 2022.
Last year, redefinED asked education experts to speculate which state would become the next Nevada. Top states included Georgia, Iowa, New Hampshire, Texas, West Virginia.
Of those states, only New Hampshire is still carrying a bill. SB 193, which would create a universal education savings account program, has already passed the state Senate and is now in the Education Committee in the lower chamber.
Among the top picks that failed in 2017, lawmakers in Georgia never filed a bill this year, while dark-horse candidate West Virginia saw an ESA bill pass out of the Senate Education Committee before languishing too long in Finance. Republicans and Democrats in the lower chamber of the Texas legislature passed a budget bill prohibiting any money from being spent on vouchers or ESAs, even though a strong private school choice bill passed the Senate. Meanwhile a budget shortfall in Iowa has taken away the appetite of legislators to pass any new private school choice program.
At least one state on our list of alternates, Missouri, has a bill alive SB 32 would create a $25 million tax-credit funded education savings account program open to students with special needs, students in foster care or students who attended public school for at least 100 days prior to applying to the scholarship.