All signs point to an extremely long, divisive and protracted legislative session. But we’ve got a goalie on the 9th floor, and we are impressed by Hobbs’ courageous pro-public education leadership thus far.
In a blatant attempt to cut off budget leverage for Hobbs, majority leadership has already announced their own diametrically opposed plan: a continuation budget, in effect a status-quo copy and paste of last year’s plan with only small inflationary adjustments. As you’ll recall, last year so many Republican members wanted spending cuts that the legislature couldn’t reach agreement on a partisan budget, which necessitated a deal with Democrats. In 2023, when the Republican caucus skews even further right and Hobbs holds veto power, a continuation budget plan is likely a pipe dream.
This week, new Supt. Tom Horne also gave his State of Education address to the Senate Education Committee. That speech left us deeply disappointed. While Horne acknowledged the need to lift Arizona’s antiquated school spending cap (which majority lawmakers have taken pains to say they support waiving but “won’t be rushed” into), he also called the state of Arizona’s schools “grim.” He instead highlighted his intent to double down on high-stakes testing and forcible takeovers of struggling schools. Absent was any mention of students’ mental health needs. Asked by press to comment, SOSAZ Executive Director Beth Lewis said, “His plans are authoritarian and discipline focused, punitive in nature, and are not what kids need to help them thrive.” We will continue to watch Supt. Horne and his administration closely.