How State Legislators
Voted on School
Funding in 2017

AZ Schools Now is a coalition of dedicated volunteers, educators, parents, school board members, faith-based leaders, and children’s advocates focused on reinvesting in Arizona’s public schools. Collectively, the constituencies of the AZ Schools Now partner organizations represent some of Arizona’s most ardent and invested supporters of public education.

Though Arizona voters are united in their strong support for reinvestments in public schools, our state legislature has been slow to respond. Additional education funding for fiscal year 2018, combined with the voter-approved inflationary funding from Proposition 123, still leaves public schools with $1.1 billion less in funding than a decade ago.

This guide summarizes the voting records of all current state senators and representatives on key public school funding legislation in 2017. These votes include:

  • An expansion of taxpayer-funded ESA voucher subsidies for private and religious education
  • A state budget that does nothing to move the needle on the growing teacher shortage crisis.
  • Select education investments for a group of excelling schools that focused mainly on high-income neighborhoods in Maricopa and Pima counties
  • Additional tax cuts for big corporations and families at all income levels that drain funding away from public education

To ensure progress in the success of Arizona’s public schools and its students, AZ Schools Now champions investments for three specific goals:

  1. Expand and stabilize our workforce of qualified teachers through competitive compensation and professional support
  2. Provide critical tools for classrooms with supplies and updated textbooks and technology
  3. Repair and maintain school facilities to give students safe, clean and functional places to learn
K-12 Education still $1.1 billion less than FY 2008

2017 Voting Record on Bills Impacting
Public School Funding

SB 1431 – Expansion of private school vouchers (ESAs)
Expands access to vouchers (ESAs), which will further divert resources from the general fund in order to subsidize the tuition of students who attend private schools. Following a four-year phase-in period, all students in the state would be eligible for a private school voucher. Places a cap on the number of ESAs that can be awarded per school year, but that cap could be removed by a future legislature. Sponsored by Senator Lesko.
Senate vote: Ayes: 16 Nays: 13 Not Voting: 1. House vote: Ayes: 31 Nays: 28 Not Voting: 1
Signed by Governor Ducey
AZ Schools Now opposed: No votes earn 40 points.

SB1522/HB2537 – FY2018 State Budget
This is the main budget bill which provides for many of the appropriations for operating state government for FY2018. With Arizona’s public schools still receiving $1.1 billion less in annual funding than they received in 2008, this budget’s net new funding for public education of about $32 per student does very little to address the many needs of Arizona’s resource-starved public schools. The 1 percent bonus for teachers amounts to roughly $450 next year and is far too little to reduce the teacher shortage. Sponsored by Senator Yarbrough (SB1522) and Representative Mesnard (HB2537).
Senate vote: Ayes: 17 Nays: 13 Not Voting: 0. House vote: Ayes: 35 Nays: 24 Not Voting: 1.
Signed by Governor Ducey
AZ Schools Now opposed: No votes earn 10 points.

HB2528 – Income tax cuts
Increases the personal income tax exemption and requires the exemption to be adjusted and increased each year based on the Consumer Price Index, resulting in a cost to the general fund of $6.8 million in FY 2018 and growing to $16.3 million in FY 2020. Annual costs to the general fund will increase thereafter, providing less revenue to invest in public education in future years. Sponsored by Representative Mesnard.
Senate vote: Ayes: 19 Nays: 11 Not Voting: 0. House vote: Ayes: 38 Nays: 28 Not Voting: 1
Signed by Governor Ducey
AZ Schools Now opposed: No votes earn 20 points.

SB1530/HB2545 – FY2018 education budget items (not included in the main state budget bill)
This bill makes statutory changes necessary to implement the public education-related appropriations in the FY2018 budget. Among the provisions, it provides a $32 million bonus – the largest chunk of K-12 classroom investments – to a handful of excelling schools that are mainly located in high-income neighborhoods in Maricopa and Pima counties, while failing to meet many other critical needs like the repair of school buildings and buses, updated textbooks and technology and impactful, permanent teacher raises. Sponsored by Senator Yarbrough (SB1530) and Representative Mesnard (HB2545).
Senate vote: Ayes: 20 Nays: 10 House vote: Ayes: 31 Nays: 28 Not Voting: 1.
Signed by Governor Ducey
AZ Schools Now opposed: No votes earn 10 points.

SB1416 – Business tax cuts
Expands and continues various tax giveaways for businesses, including the continuation and expansion of a jobs tax credit that was set to expire and a research and development tax credit that otherwise would have been reduced. Continues a trend of the Arizona legislature cutting taxes and/or increasing credits every year but one since 1990, which has cost the general fund more than $2.2 billion in revenues – and more than double that amount when you adjust for inflation. These are funds that could otherwise be invested in state priorities like public education. Sponsored by Senator Pratt.
Senate vote: Ayes: 21 Nays: 8 Not Voting: 1. House vote: Ayes: 32 Nays: 21 Not Voting: 7
Signed by Governor Ducey
AZ Schools Now opposed: No votes earn 20 points.

We Can Do Better

These bills signed by Governor Ducey leave public schools with an alarming teacher shortage crisis, a $1.1 billion deficit in annual funding, tax policies draining away future revenues for education, and no plan to reinvest in public schools. However, many policy options to power reinvestment in public schools exist, and, in fact, a number of bills were introduced in that direction. Some of these never got a hearing; others received some consideration, but didn’t move to final passage. Here are some key examples:

  • Several bills were introduced to freeze the loss of funding to growing private school tax credits and to target the scholarships to the students most in need. Sponsors were Representative Coleman and Senator Brophy McGee and Representatives Friese and Fernandez.
  • Representatives Carter and Boyer sponsored a bill to restore $370 million that has been wiped out in classroom funding each year.
  • Representative Engel and others introduced a bill to increase the Proposition 301 sales tax dedicated to education to 1 percent and to continue it beyond the current sunset date.
  • Senator Otondo and Representative Epstein proposed amendments to the budget to appropriate funding for a 4 percent teacher raise.

AZ Schools Now joins parents and business leaders across the state in calling for policies like these to reinvest in public schools.

How Arizona State Senators Voted

State SenatorLDSB 1431
SB 1522
State Budget
HB 2528
Tax Cuts
HB 2545 K-12
Budget Detail
SB 1416
Tax Cuts
100 possible
Sylvia Allen6000000
Nancy Barto15000000
Sonny Borrelli5000000
Sean Bowie184010010060
David Bradley1040102010080
Kate Brophy McGee28400200060
Judy Burges2200002020
Olivia Cajero Bedford340102010080
Lupe Contreras194010201020100
Andrea Dalessandro240102010080
Karen Fann1000000
Steve Farley94010201020100
David Farnsworth1600002020
Gail Griffin14000000
Katie Hobbs244010201020100
John Kavanagh230000NV0
Debbie Lesko21000000
Juan Mendez264010201020100
Robert Meza300*10010020
Catherine Miranda274010010060
Steve Montenegro13000000
Lisa Otondo440102010080
Jamescita Peshlakai740102010080
Warren Petersen1200002020
Frank Pratt8000000
Martin Quezada294010201020100
Steve Smith11000000
Bob Worsley25000000
Steve Yarbrough17000000
Kimberly Yee20000000

NV = Not voting or absent
0* = not voting for an unexcused absence, this is counted as zero in the score

How Arizona State Representatives Voted

State RepresentativeLDSB 1431
SB 1522
State Budget
HB 2528
Tax Cuts
HB 2545
K-12 Budget Detail
SB 1416
Tax Cuts
100 possible
John Allen15000000
Lela Alston244010201020100
Richard Andrade294010201020100
Brenda Barton6000000
Wenona Benally740NVNVNVNV40
Isela Blanc264010201020100
Reginald Bolding274010201020100
Rusty Bowers25000000
Paul Boyer20000000
Kelli Butler284010201020100
Noel Campbell1000000
Mark Cardenas1940100102080
Heather Carter1540000040
Cesar Chavez2940102010080
Ken Clark244010201020100
Todd Clodfelter1040000040
Regina Cobb5000000
Doug Coleman1640000040
David Cook8000000
Eric Descheenie740102010NV80
Kirsten Engel104010201020100
Mitzi Epstein1840100100*60
Diego Espinoza194010201020100
Eddie Farnsworth1200002020
Charlene Fernandez44010201020100
Mark Finchem11000000
Randy Friese94010201020100
Rosanna Gabaldon24010201020100
Sally Ann Gonzales30*1020100*40
Travis Grantham1200002020
Daniel Hernandez24010010NV60
Drew John14000000
Anthony Kern20000000
Jay Lawrence23000000
Vince Leach11000000
David Livingston22000000
Ray Martinez304010201020100
J.D. Mesnard17000000
Darin Mitchell130000NV0
Paul Mosley50000NV0
Tony Navarrete304010201020100
Jill Norgaard18000000
Becky Nutt14000000
Kevin Payne21000000
Pamela Powers Hannley94010201020100
Rebecca Rios274010201020100
Tony Rivero21000000
Jesus Rubalcava44010201020100
Macario Saldate34010201020100
Athena Salman264010201020100
Don Shooter13000000
TJ Shope8000000
David Stringer1000000
Maria Syms28000000
Bob Thorpe6000000
Ben Toma22NV00000
Kelly Townsend16000000
Michelle Udall2540000040
Michelle Ugenti-Rita23000000
Jeff Weninger17000000

NV = Not voting or absent
0* = not voting for an unexcused absence, this is counted as zero in the score