“Governor Ducey and legislators had a tremendous opportunity to invest in public education funding using the billions of dollars in surplus,” says AEA President Joe Thomas. “Instead, they chose to line the pockets of their wealthy donors by creating a multi-year billion-dollar tax cut and a tax loophole for the wealthy to avoid paying taxes to invest in education.”
Last year, educators worked to get the Invest in Education Act on the ballot and voters approved the measure to provide $940 million in permanent sustainable funding for our schools by implementing a 3.5% tax for those with incomes over $500K. This budget undermines the will of voters and spends the state surplus on a regressive flat income tax that will permanently drain billions from state revenue and tips the scales in favor of the wealthiest 1% in Arizona.
“This budget fails to fund full-day Kindergarten. It fails to provide schools with enough resources to repair their buildings and build new schools when needed. It fails to address Arizona’s shortage of teachers,” says Thomas. “This budget will have devastating consequences for our students and educators for decades with the expansion of the private school voucher program and permanent loss of $3 billion in state revenue over the next few years.”
A private school voucher expansion was amended to the K-12 Education Budget bill, further diverting tax dollars away from public schools into private schools without any accountability. Arizona’s private school program is rife with fraud, waste, and abuse and several reports show it has no positive academic impact for our students.
AEA has rallied members, educators, and education supporters to contact legislators and sit in the gallery to lobby elected officials to work on a bipartisan budget that invests in education without permanent tax cuts.
“Our students are at the center of everything we do,” says Thomas. “We will not stand down when it comes to our students. We will advocate every day for the policies and resources necessary for the respect our educators deserve and the educational opportunities our students need.”