Posted Date: 05/15/2023
Education Wins in Budget, but at What Cost?
We are celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week with some recent legislative success! Yesterday, we received news that education doomsday has been avoided for one more year! The Arizona legislature passed SCR1041, which grants approval for expenditures exceeding the AEL for School Districts in FY2024.
Governor Hobbs’ recently released budget received the final seal of approval and has earmarked a substantial amount of funding for Arizona’s education system. The budget package reflects a resolute commitment to enhancing Arizona's education system and acknowledges its vital role in shaping the future of our state.
A one-time boost of $300 million permits districts to preserve precious formula dollars for ongoing needs to be used for priorities like teacher and staff pay and benefits. While these resources are a big win for our educators, there’s still lingering disappointment and concern over the unrestrained ESA program. Nearly 12,000 students participated in the program before it was expanded. More than 55,000 students are currently in the program. The average scholarship amount now stands at around $10,000 per student.
The Arizona School Boards Association said in a statement, “We are dismayed however that Arizona will spend an estimated $600M in public funds on private and religious education next year with no sign of slowing. This unchecked spending is irresponsible…”
Beth Lewis with Save Our School warned, "We’ve got uncapped, unfettered ESA program that is running rampant with taxpayer funds, and threatens to bankrupt our state, so we are asking the Governor to fix the budget,”
If the Legislature does nothing, the ESA program will continue to siphon valuable funds from the state’s revenue stream and pose a substantial threat to future investments in critical sectors that impact the well-being and prosperity of our state.
We remain steadfast in our commitment to addressing these issues, advocating for responsible and fair policies that support our public education system and promote the best interests of our students, educators, and communities. We encourage the Legislature to take swift and decisive action to curb the program's growth.
The only way we can make substantive change is to elect pro-education leaders to the legislature. This means supporting candidates who prioritize investing in our schools, advocate for teachers, and fight to provide access to quality education for all students.
Friends of ASBA