In the budget proposal recently released by Arizona lawmakers, we are beginning to see the impact you have made by advocating for education funding. Expect More Arizona is encouraged by much of what is included in the budget, but your help is still needed to ensure priorities like delaying the implementation of Current Year Funding and increasing funding for our universities to support in-state resident students.
The fiscal year 2017 budget proposal is a move in the right direction to support the long-term solution that’s needed for education funding in Arizona. We are pleased to see $111 million in new, ongoing funding for K-12 education. The proposal fully funds enrollment and inflation at the new base level and an additional $224 million for schools this June should Proposition 123 pass.
Earlier this year, we asked you to contact your elected leaders to advocate for restored funding for Joint Technical Education Districts (JTEDs). Because of you, the proposed budget also includes $29 million for JTEDs, restored by the legislature earlier this year. Additionally, there is $30 million for K-12 building renewal, $15 million more than the prior year, to assist with critical health and safety needs in school capital.
A top priority for Expect More Arizona and its network of partners around the state has been advocating for the delay in Current Year Funding. Our schools need time to effectively make a transition to any adjustments in how they are funded. The current budget proposal does not include a delay, but we are pleased that the Governor and a bipartisan coalition of members in the House have come out strongly in support of this issue. As budget negotiations proceed, we would like to see Current Year Funding delayed to avoid a $31 million cut to K-12 education next year.
Another priority for Expect More Arizona this year has been to support the state universities’ proposal to work towards funding 50 percent of the cost to educate in-state resident students over time. While we are encouraged to see increased funding included for our universities, we are advocating for the final budget to include the full $32 million in ongoing funding in support of the resident funding model.
Voters in Arizona believe that investing in education should be our top priority. A recent survey of 400 Arizona business executives showed that they believe the same. They cited building a pipeline of qualified job candidates and investing in education as the most important issues to the success of their companies, not cutting taxes. At a time when funding for education is the top priority for everyone, it is critical that the budget result in increased funding for all schools.
The progress we are seeing in the budget proposal is a result of your commitment to advocating on behalf of teachers and students. Your voices are beginning to be heard. Keep it up! As final budget negotiations are underway, send a message to your legislators today to let them know that you support a delay or freeze on any funding formula changes that will cause cuts to K-12 schools, including current year funding, small school weight and district sponsored charter phase out, and ask them to provide the $32 million in ongoing funding that was requested by our state universities to increase support for resident students.