Schools have been forced to slash budgets for teacher and staff salaries, programs, nurses, counselors, extracurriculars, advanced coursework, the arts, and more.
The answer is less complex than you might imagine.
In the early 1990s, the doctrine of shrinking state budgets began. 30 years later, Arizona doesn’t have the revenue it needs to fund public services, including schools, public safety, transportation, healthcare, and more.
The problem was exacerbated by cuts made during the 2008 recession. Many of these cuts have not been restored. The burden of K12 funding has been placed on local taxpayers via property taxes, tax credits, PTO/PTA fundraising, and local bond and override elections.
Our current state leaders refuse to champion funding for schools - even though they know that it is the number one economic driver for our state.
When Governor Ducey campaigned for Governor in 2014, he opposed Proposition 204, which would have raised $1 billion per year for AZ schools. Since, he has lauded himself for modest investments that haven’t moved the needle, including 20x2020 teacher raises. Moreover, he’s fought every funding proposal that citizen groups have brought to the ballot, including voter-approved Proposition 208.
The Arizona legislature makes the vast majority of decisions around education funding in our state. AZ legislative leadership has long favored budget cuts and tax credits for the wealthy over funding public services, and for the past decade has been guided by special interests intent on converting the public education system to a for-profit system. For this reason, the AZ state legislature has fought to pass ESA and STO private school voucher expansions year after year; now, these programs siphon $300 million from public schools every single year. Learn more about the harmful nature of private school vouchers here