The regular Arizona legislative session has officially ended, after adjourning temporarily amid shelter-in-place orders. A group of Senate Democrats and Republicans moved to adjourn early this week without taking action on just under 30 noncontroversial bills – effectively ending session and killing those bills. As a reminder, emergency education legislation and a baseline budget bill were signed in March.
A list of bills we were watching during session and information about whether they passed or did not advance can be found here.
For a variety of reasons, it was an atypical session. More than 1,700 bills were introduced but less than 100 were enacted. It is expected that a special session will be held at some point, but the size, scope and timing are yet to be determined.
Because the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on nearly everything, including state revenues, we expect the budget to be a highly contested topic. Now, more than ever, it’s important for education advocates to contact their state legislators and convey the importance of protecting education funding, at every level.
While much-needed federal relief funds address critical needs in the short term, those funds must not be used to supplant state education funding. Our public education systems will require meaningful and reliable resources to sufficiently address the needs of our students, and to tackle the achievement gap that has been exacerbated and made more visible due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
You can help by emailing your state legislators today. Make sure they know education is your top priority and ALL of education – early childcare, K-12, and colleges and universities – is in desperate need of additional investments.
The strength of Arizona’s economy is driven by the strength of our educational systems. But schools don’t just serve as the talent pipeline for Arizona businesses. They allow parents and caregivers to work – beginning with access to quality early child care and including afterschool care, summer programming and more. Schools – from early education through higher education – are an essential part of Arizona’s recovery efforts and must be treated as such. Arizona’s future depends on it.