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June 15, 2024

Arizona sues U.S. Treasury over threats to pull COVID relief funding

Arizona governor Doug Ducey is suing the federal government over its challenge to the state’s use of a portion of its American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 funding.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court on Friday, wants to protect $173 million in coronavirus relief funding that the U.S. Treasury alleges the state is misusing.

“The Biden administration is attempting to hold Congressionally-appropriated funds hostage and is trying to bully Arizona into complying with this power-grabbing move,” Ducey said in a press release. “They’re going after education programs that are designed to help kids access in-person instruction, ensure schools stay open and give parents the ability to make decisions that are best for their kids.”

Two weeks ago, the Treasury sent a letter to the state saying that it had 60 days to stop what it is doing before the Treasury began recouping funds it deemed as being misused.

The money in question is mostly part of the state’s Education Plus-Up Grant program. Announced in August by Gov. Ducey, it will provide funding to district and charter schools if they follow all state laws regarding coronavirus and remain open for in-person school learning for the entire school year. If they pivot back to remote learning, they cannot receive the funding. The school districts also cannot implement a mask mandate.

The other program in question is the COVID-19 Educational Recovery Benefit program. It provided up to $7,000 per student for families to cover childcare, transportation, online tutoring, and tuition for parents facing financial hardship and educational barriers as a result of school closures and mandates. The program had $10 million in funding.

In a Fox News interview about the lawsuit last week, Ducey said that the Biden administration should refocus its priorities and let Arizona handle its own education.

“Arizona is filing a lawsuit against the Biden administration, against this federal overreach and against the bullying and attacks on our state,” Ducey said. “Joe Biden needs to focus on the border, 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.”

The U.S. Treasury could not be reached for comment over the weekend.

This article was originally posted on Arizona sues U.S. Treasury over threats to pull COVID relief funding

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