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Governor's Budget Permanently Cuts Nearly $240 Million from Arizona Schools

Phoenix, AZ (January 21, 2014) – Governor Brewer’s budget makes education a low priority for Arizona by permanently cutting $239 million to school districts, despite a rebounding economy and available revenue, while at the same time raising expectations on the outcomes of Arizona’s public schools. Read AEA’s analysis of budget proposal.

During the economic downturn, Governor Brewer and the Arizona Legislature suspended $239 million per year in funding for school soft capital and school district capital outlay budgets. These funds address ongoing, student-centered needs such as classroom materials and instructional supplies. Last year’s budget combined these costs into a new formula called “district additional assistance,” but remained unfunded. The Governor’s budget proposes to permanently suspend this formula, which would reset the per-pupil level to a lower amount permanently in statute and erase all the funding school districts are owed by the state.

“Simply put, public education is not a priority in the governor’s budget,” says AEA President Andrew F. Morrill. “During the economic recession, Governor Brewer signed budgets that cut over $1 billion in education funding and now that the economy is recovering, her budget does not restore these cuts, but instead it lowers the bar in terms of financial support for public education and at the same time raises the expectations on the performance of our students and schools.”

The governor’s budget also includes new funding for a performance-based funding plan that could potentially increase funding inadequacies for Arizona’s public schools. In addition, the plan provides funding for the implementation of a new assessment for the Arizona College and Career Ready Standards, but no additional money towards curriculum, district resources, or professional development for teachers on the new, higher standards.

“Adding new money to measure the performance of our schools, while at the same time making a permanent cut of nearly $240 million in the education budget is setting up our students, teachers, and schools for failure,” says Morrill. “It’s as if the state were putting more money into making a better test and means of grading that test, but then not providing any pencils or desks for students when they show up on testing day.”

“Our students and schools suffered from massive cuts to education funding, leading to increased class sizes, school closures, and program cuts to arts, music, and sports. Arizona needs a fully funded education budget before the state imposes new demands on our students, teachers, and schools,” says Morrill.  “We believe any education funding plan must provide our schools and teachers with the support and resources they need to provide a quality public education to every student, regardless of class, race, or ability.”

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