After months of debate and negotiations between Governor Katie Hobbs (D) and state Legislative leaders, the Arizona State House and Senate have passed a $17.8 billion state budget with bipartisan support, delivering some wins and losses for both sides of the political aisle.
“From day one, our Majority has been focused on getting the job done for our constituents: putting Arizona families first, protecting the vulnerable, and growing opportunity and freedom. We’re conservatives. We believe you should keep more of your money and the government should spend less. That’s why we believe this is Arizona’s Budget — a budget that reflects our needs, gives back, spends smart, and addresses real issues,” said House Speaker Ben Toma (R-Peoria). “We needed a budget that the Governor would sign that accomplishes our goal of putting Arizona families first. This budget accomplishes both.”
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne (R) released a statement Tuesday blasting opposition from Democrats and the state’s teacher union to House Bill (HB) 2800, sponsored by Representative Matt Gress (R-Phoenix).
“Shockingly, the Arizona teacher’s union and a number of Democrats in the legislature, oppose the bill. All we can think of is that they are opposed to it because it is a Republican bill. These kinds of questions should be bipartisan, and people should not oppose a good bill, just because [a] Republican introduced it,” Horne said.
The Arizona State Senate has officially passed Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 1009, sponsored by Sen. Ken Bennett (R-Prescott), which lifts the spending limits placed on public schools by the aggregate expenditure limit. This lifting will allow schools to spend a nearly $1.4 billion surplus in allocated funds.
“Senate Republicans have an uninterrupted history of always allowing our K-12 public schools to spend the money appropriated to them by the Legislature, and this year is no different,” said Bennett. “By far, our public education system receives the most money annually from our state budget.”
The Arizona Freedom Caucus (AFC) announced it would take a stand against lifting the highly contested aggregate expenditure limit (AEL), which puts a cap on public school spending unless it comes with systemic reform.
Newly Elected State Rep. Matt Gress (R-Maricopa), Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Budgetary Funding Formulas, announced a hearing for Thursday to review the public school spending cap created by the aggregate expenditure limit (AEL).
“The purpose of this committee hearing is to ensure the record investments we’ve made in K-12 education over the last eight years are effectively and responsibly spent so that we can properly invest in our state’s future leaders,” said Gress.