|This week lawmakers passed a state budget which makes a new deposit into the Rainy Day Fund to better prepare Arizona for the next recession but that step was overshadowed by more than $386 million in fiscally irresponsible and permanent tax cuts – foregoing revenue that could have otherwise been used to make new investments in public education and affordable housing.
Arizona has been down this road before. In 2006, similar to this year, Arizona enjoyed a $1 billion budget surplus and lawmakers passed a $300 million income tax cut. The following year, the national recession officially began. By 2009, Arizona faced a $1 billion budget deficit which resulted in the largest cuts in state funding to public education in the nation. Among those cuts was school district “additional assistance” funding – money that schools use to pay for textbooks, curriculum, and other classroom supplies.
More than a decade later, district additional assistance money has still not been fully restored. Arizona’s students have been asked to wait for a plan that will restore that funding over the next three years. Arizona lawmakers had an opportunity to fully restore this additional assistance funding this year but instead they chose tax cuts over funding Arizona’s public schools.
In poll after poll, Arizona voters have consistently stated they prefer funding our public schools over tax cuts, but yet another legislative session has come to an end with lawmakers choosing tax cuts before students.