Arizona lawmakers pull constitutional public school spending cap for the year – The Center Square

Lawmakers in Arizona have given public school districts too much money.

They remedied that problem Wednesday by allowing districts to spend more than a voter-approved cap on district spending allows, dodging a more than $1.3 billion shortfall compared to what schools were told they had when the Legislature passed its budget last year.

Had they not, districts warned of closures before the school year ended. Among those warning of potential calamity was Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne.

“It is great news for the education system that the exception to the school spending limit was passed by the legislature,” Horne said in a statement. “I campaigned hard for this result and in the process assured legislators that the Department of Education would promote accountability, work to increase academic outcomes and provide transparency that legislators are looking for. We will accomplish that task.”

Democrats unanimously supported House Concurrent Resolution 2001, with some echoing Gov. Katie Hobbs in saying the cap must be lifted entirely.

“I believe in our educators and our students. There’s more work to be done for them. We must continue to fight for better schools and to level the playing field,” Hobbs said in a statement. “It is clear that a permanent fix is needed to address the school spending limit. Let’s rebuild and reinvest in our schools, ensure accountability and resolve the educator retention crisis.”

Several Republicans in both legislative chambers opposed the bill, criticizing the state’s public school system.

“Our public education system is broken,” said Sen. Janae Shamp, R-Surprise.

Sen. Anthony Kern, R-Glendale, opposed lifting the cap, saying public schools will never say they have enough funding.

“They have never given us a number to where they say they will be happy,” he said.

While he supported the resolution, Sen. Steve Kaiser, R-Phoenix, said the only reason schools are in the predicament is due to GOP-sponsored funding increases.

“Republican lawmakers have infused an enormous amount of money into the K-12 system over the past several years,” he said.

Kaiser listed off several statistics showing increased state spending on public schools in recent years, noting that only districts can increase teacher pay, of which Arizona’s are consistently near the lowest paid in America.

“School district spending on instructional time, in classroom spending, is a mere 55%,” he said. “That 55% puts us in the bottom ten of classroom spending. That’s something that school districts have control over.”


1 thought on “Arizona lawmakers pull constitutional public school spending cap for the year – The Center Square”

  1. Government school budgets are complicated and made more so by the AZ legislature. School funding is departmentalized as the state decides which areas of budget to fund over others. Also, Millions of tax dollars entering the AZ funnel never reach the school districts but fund various analysis of education departments. If Arizona’s formula of only 55% of funds reach the classroom; that alone should be a near criminal offence. Time for Tom Horne to look deeply into this division of school funding.

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