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:
- Expand and stabilize our workforce of qualified teachers through competitive compensation and professional support
- Provide critical tools for classrooms with supplies and updated textbooks and technology
- Repair and maintain school facilities to give students safe, clean and functional places to learn
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.