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Issue Explainer

Education Funding and Budget

The Arizona Legislature funds the public education system that serves over 1 million students in our state through the annual budget process. The state fiscal year begins July 1 and ends June 30.
Published: April 4, 2022

The state’s legislative body is responsible for approving the state’s budget and funding our public schools; however, more than half of school funding comes from local and federal sources.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 48% of school funding in Arizona comes from the state. Local revenue from property taxes provide 40% of school funding. While federal funding only accounts for 12% of school funding, Arizona is in the top five of highest percentage of revenues coming from the federal government.

For decades, our state’s leaders have underfunded our public schools leading to a teacher shortage crisis. When comparing our education funding to the size of our state’s overall economy, Arizona ranks 49th in the nation, spending $25.42 on K-12 education for every $1,000 of personal income. The national average is $36.13. It’s no surprise that Arizona ranks near the bottom in per-pupil spending and in average teacher salary.

Arizona’s public schools are funded through the state’s general fund, but for the past three decades, our state has cuts taxes for corporations and the wealthy, shrinking the amount of revenue our state brings in. In addition, the Arizona Legislature has diverted general fund money that could go to public schools into private schools without any accountability through the state’s voucher program, corporate tuition tax credits, and Student Tuition Organizations.

Oftentimes, when the governor and state legislature do increase school funding, it comes with strings attached tying money to test scores, which we know is not an accurate way to measure student achievement.

If our state’s leaders are serious about student success, then it’s time they got serious about funding what works. Ensuring every child has a caring, certified teacher in the classroom, reducing class sizes, full-day kindergarten, providing updated textbooks and technology in the classroom, and having a curriculum that is rich and diverse—these are the things we know make a great public school for our children. Our state has not met its funding obligations in decades and this has led to school buildings and buses falling apart and teachers leaving the classroom. The only significant funding increases have come through lawsuits and citizens’ initiatives.

Arizona voters support investing in public education. They do not support vouchers or tax cuts for the wealthy. AEA has been the most effective voice for funding public schools at the capitol. We need you to join our fight to ensure the best possible future for our students.


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Keeping the Promise of Quality Public Education

With more than 20,000 members, the Arizona Education Association (AEA) is the labor union for public school employees in Arizona. AEA members are teachers, community college professors, counselors, speech pathologists, bus drivers, secretaries, retired educators and student teachers and they belong to more than 150 local affiliates across Arizona.