Monday afternoon, Governor Ducey delivered his fourth State of the State address and once again pledged to make public education a priority by adding more dollars to the budget for K-12 programs and restoring many of the cuts made during the Recession. In fact, the governor indicated that 80 percent of all available new dollars will be allocated to K-12 education.

Making good on his remarks, the governor held a special media event yesterday morning where he outlined elements of his Executive Budget, including a plan to fully restore district additional assistance over five years and increase funding for K-12 education by nearly $300 million in the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2018 (FY2019). Read the details below.

An Encouraging Step, but More Resources Needed

Expect More Arizona is grateful that Governor Ducey continues to recognize the need to restore funding cuts made to schools during the Recession. Our recent poll results show that education remains the top issue among Arizona voters, and that school funding and teacher pay are the leading concerns.

We believe that any new money this year will be another important step toward adequately funding education, but the aggressive goals outlined in the Arizona Education Progress Meter and the teacher recruitment and retention crisis will not be solved in just one year. Arizona’s education system – K through 12, community colleges, and universities – requires continued, reliable investments over time.

A Call for Unity

The governor also made a point of calling for “unity” moving forward between all education stakeholders and advocates on future public education investments, saying that we must work together if we are going to succeed.

Expect More Arizona is eager to work together, across party lines, to find a long-term funding solution (which includes the renewal of Prop 301) that is equitable and supports the success of every student, regardless of background, income or zip code.

Complete Budget Details Available Friday

The governor will release his complete budget proposal on Friday, Jan. 12. We will provide an update once we have reviewed the budget, including any details specific to early childhood education or higher education.

Proposed FY2019 expenditures include:

    • $116 million for student growth and inflation (to account for increases in the number of K-12 students statewide).
    • $88.1 million in debt financing leveraged by $5.1 million from the General Fund to construct new schools or expand capacity. (Meaning the state will use $5.1 million from the General Fund to make the payments on loans needed for school construction, which is particularly important for districts struggling to pass a local bond initiative.)
    • $35.2 million for building renewal grants to improve or repair aging school facilities, plus $10 million added to the current state budget for additional grants before June 30, 2018.
    • $34 million for the second year of the teacher salary increase and moving the total increase into the base level to ensure it will be adjusted for inflation every year. (Moving the increase into the base level means the overall two-year salary increase of $68 million will be a permanent pay increase, accounted for in the General Fund budget and adjusted according to the rate of inflation.)
    • $4 million to continue expanding early literacy funding for full-day kindergarten and other critical early childhood programs. ($8 million in flexible funding was allocated in the FY18 budget for low-income schools to use toward full-day Kindergarten or other early literacy interventions to increase the numbers of third graders proficient in reading. An additional $4 million would bring the FY19 total to $12 million.)
    • $2.5 million to expand the Governor’s Partnership for K-12 Computer Science pilot program that will allow schools to offer high-quality, rigorous training for new computer science teachers.
    • $2 million to fully fund large Joint Technical Education Districts (JTEDs), which serve more than half of all students attending JTEDs.
    • $7.6 million in other key education investments on information technology projects and assessments.

In addition, the governor is proposing full restoration of District Additional Assistance and Charter Additional Assistance by 2023, starting with $100 million next year. District Additional Assistance is intended to provide funding for expenditures outside school district’s maintenance & operations budgets, including soft capital items such as textbooks, curriculum, technology and school buses, as well as some capital funding. The Charter Additional Assistance is intended to provide funds for those same items plus transportation and includes more for capital. However, since 2009, a portion of this funding has been suspended.

The governor also indicated we should expect him to release a plan later this month to spend millions on new school buses.