The reaction to the bipartisan budget deal among Democratic and social justice activist groups has been generally positive, especially with regards to the major investments in K-12 and Higher Education. However, some of the reactions contain a justifiable level of concern to future fiscal budgets and the complications for future education funding created by Republican tax cuts and voucher expansion (more tax cuts for the rich.)
Please read some of the reactions below.
Arizona Secretary of State and Gubernatorial Candidate Katie Hobbs posted:
It’s good to see the #AZLeg finally came together to pass a bipartisan budget that invests in our state, with a notable boost to elections funding. As your next governor, this is the kind of across-the-aisle work I’ll expect to get the job done for Arizonans.
— Katie Hobbs (@katiehobbs) June 23, 2022
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman also posted:
For the last several years, myself and other educators have advocated for a substantial, permanent increase in K12 funding to further our students' academic success.
I'm thrilled that this year's budget reflects Arizonans wishes to invest in public education.
— Kathy Hoffman (@kathyhoffman_az) June 23, 2022
Assistant Democratic House Leader Jennifer Longdon relayed:
“I’m grateful to my Democratic colleagues who worked together to deliver a budget that will make the critical investment in Arizona’s public schools that voters have demanded for years. This budget is far from perfect – however, students, families, and teachers needed us to act now. Students are the future of Arizona, and an investment in our future helps put Arizona on the right path forward.”
Legislative State Representative Jennifer Pawlik posted on Facebook:
“We worked overnight to pass the first true bipartisan budget that Arizona has seen in many, many years. Since I left the classroom, one of my goals has been to vote for a budget that adds more funding to our public school system. I was proud to play a part in this historic budget.
Some of the highlights from the K-12 budget included $526 M ongoing funding to the base, $100M ongoing funding for special education, an opportunity (poverty weight) that will ramp up to $100M, increases to district and charter additional assistance, and $50M for school safety (We added mental health providers to that line item). We were able to remove STO (School Tuition Organization) expansion was removed from the package.
Our work isn’t done yet. The NREW committee will hear the water bill today. We have caucus and more bills to debate. I understand we may finish Friday.”
Legislative State Representative Judy Schwiebert stated:
“I’m pleased to have helped pass a bipartisan budget that prioritizes public education, providing a good down payment on the needs of students, families, and teachers across our state. There is still much more investment needed, but this is a step in the right direction. As a legislator, I will continue to work toward making sure every Arizonan has the opportunity to thrive.”
Legislative State Representative Morgan Abraham commented:
“I came to the legislature to fund our schools, build more affordable housing, and help solve the water crisis in Arizona. I am thrilled to have helped negotiate a budget that does just that. This budget makes a historic investment in education, water, and housing. We still have a lot of work to do in Arizona though and I cannot wait to build on this momentum next year as we continue to fight for more investment in education housing and water.”
Scottsdale Unified School Board Candidate Mary Gaudio offered:
“The bi-partisan state budget brings the first real investment in Arizona’s K-12 education in years. Yet, universal ESA voucher expansion threatens to strip away these gains. Every child deserves a free, quality public education. We must continue to advocate for the full funding of our public schools.”
Marina School Board Candidate Abbie Hlavacek wrote:
“The K-12 budget is a clear commitment to our future by increasing funding for our public schools. I understand that this would have been the same level of funding if Prop 208 was not ruled unconstitutional. I am disappointed that Arizona’s legislature is ignoring the will of voters regarding the ESA voucher program expansion. It will take away funding from public schools and put it into private schools with no accountability. This is not what our voters wanted.”
Marisol Garcia, the President-Elect of the Arizona Education Association, relayed:
“It is encouraging to see parts of the Educators’ Budget included in this historic bi-partisan budget that was passed this morning. This money will have a significant impact for educators, their students, and their families. Today is a victory for public schools in Arizona.”
“Let’s be clear, that we had to fight for every dollar in this budget that started with us asking for $505 million and getting $525 million added to the base level. AEA members took time from their summer break to sit in day-long committee meetings and we stayed at the Capitol all through the night to ensure our students got the funding they deserved.”
Educator, former Creighton Elementary School Board President, former nominee for Maricopa County School Superintendent, and current Legislative District Two Senate Candidate Jeanne Casteen wrote:
The Children’s Action Alliance posted:
$800 Million in New Ongoing Funding for Public Education is a Win for Prop 208 and the Voters of Arizona https://t.co/iBC9Zz4v3C
— ChildActionAlliance (@CAA_Arizona) June 23, 2022
The head of the Children’s Action Alliance, David Lujan, noted in the CAA statement “We are pleased to see that Arizona’s public schools will be getting close to the same level of investments that Prop 208 would have provided.”
The pro child social justice organization also warned that the tax cuts in the budget, as noted by this writer in an earlier post, could jeopardize future education funding levels in the future.
Save Our Schools Arizona, in their statement, applauded the investments in K-12 Education but cautioned about what the effect of voucher expansion would be on future budgets. They relayed:
“In the wee hours this morning, the Arizona Legislature passed a budget containing $650 million in new K-12 spending.
This investment is the direct result of 5 years of incredible dedication from our volunteers, supporters, and education advocates, as well as Arizona voters’ overwhelming support of public schools.
While at first glance this budget represents a gain for Arizona classrooms and students, it will barely lift Arizona per-pupil spending from 48th to 45th in the US. There is so much more work to be done to fully fund Arizona schools.
With the imminent expansion of voter-rejected universal ESA vouchers, one thing is abundantly clear: this Republican-led legislature will never give more than it takes when it comes to public education.
Due to the massive voucher expansion of HB2853, Republican lawmakers have ensured that any funds invested in public schools will be siphoned away by private, for-profit operators seeking to cash in at the expense of Arizona’s kids.
It makes no sense to add money into our education funding bucket as we drill massive holes in the bottom.
Save Our Schools Arizona will ensure every child in every community has access to a quality, free and fully funded public education. We will not rest until we defeat the unaccountable voucher grift that’s being used to destroy our community public schools.
Our statewide volunteer movement will hold lawmakers accountable at the ballot box by electing a pro-public education Legislature on November 8.”