Arizona sues Treasury Department over federal money being used for schools without mask rules

Ducey’s lawsuit argues agency on its own and without legal authority put restrictions on money Arizona receives

Updated: January 22, 2022 - 6:33pm

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Arizona GOP Gov. Doug Ducey is suing the Biden administration over its demand that the state stop sending millions in federal COVID-19 relief money on schools without mask requirements or that close due to virus outbreaks.

The lawsuit filed Friday in federal court in Phoenix follows the Treasury Department demanding last week that Ducey either restructure the $163 million program to eliminate restrictions the agency says undermine public health recommendations or face a demand for repayment, according to the Associated Press.

The agency also wants changes to $10 million program of Ducey's that gives private school tuition money to parents if their children’s schools have mask mandates.

The governor's lawsuit argues the agency on its own and without legal authority put restrictions on the money Arizona receives under President Biden's American Rescue Plan Act, the wire service also reports.

The suit also asks the court to declare that the agency's rules illegal and to permanently block their enforcement and any demand to repay the $173 million it is spending on the two programs.

Arizona has received about half of the $4.2 billion awarded to it under the 2021 coronavirus relief bill, and the Treasury Department said it may withhold payments if Ducey failed to comply with its demands, also according to the Associated Press.