Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is proposing a $10.1 billion budget — the largest in state history.
The budget is a $300 million increase from the current budget, according to the Associated Press.
Ducey, a Republican and former CEO of Cold Stone Creamery, is touting increases in K-12 education spending.
“My budget continues to focus on K-12 education with 80 percent of new investments dedicated to Arizona’s public schools,” Ducey said. “We take clear steps to roll back recession-era cuts to key parts of our state funding formula for schools and immediately provide an initial $100 million in permanent and flexible funding.”
Ducey’s budget plans for education were met by varying reactions from education advocates across the spectrum.
“In light of available revenue, the governor’s proposal is significant as it allocates the majority of available state funds to support education. Most important is the governor’s pledge to restore district and charter additional assistance. These funds can be used for a number of purposes and has the potential to free up dollars to support other priorities such as increasing teacher pay. While we cannot fix the entirety of our funding issues overnight, this proposed budget is an important step forward,” said Christine Thompson, president and CEO of Expect More Arizona, an education advocacy group.
Ducey’s education spending plan puts $284 million towards school above the $116 million planned for in inflation and enrollment growth. That totals $400 million.
But another education group — AZ Schools — says the state still has a big education spending gap.
“This closes only a small portion of the funding gap that has persisted since the recession. Under the governor’s proposal, public school operational funding would remain $950 million below 2008 levels,” AZ School said in a statement.
Arizona routinely ranks near the bottom in the U.S. in terms of teacher pay and classroom spending. Business interests are pushing for an extension and expansion of a 0.6-cent sales tax that earmarks money for schools.
Some businesses want to see the 0.6-cent tax upped to 1.6 cents
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas, a Republican, likes Ducey’s budget.
““It is great to finally see a path forward to restoring recession-era cuts to Arizona’s school facilities,” Douglas said.
She’s proposing a 1-cent tax to replace to 0.6-cent tax. Ducey and Douglas are both up for reelection this year.
For more information or assistance, contact Governor Ducey's press office: (602) 542-1342.