While there are some incredibly impactful initiatives in the Governor’s budget proposal – like funding for early literacy and investments to accelerate student learning for those most impacted by the pandemic – there are persistent, systemic education issues that remain unaddressed. We still lack general fund support for early education; the formula to fund our community colleges continues to be suspended; and new investments in our universities pale in comparison to the massive cuts they took over a decade ago. If Arizona leaders are truly committed to reaching the Arizona Education Progress Meter goals the state must adequately fund the investment priorities outlined in the Roadmap for P-20 Education Funding. Supporting our education infrastructure is critical to Arizona’s long-term success.
FY22 BUDGET SUMMARY
The Executive Budget Recommendation was released at 2 p.m. on Friday, January 15, 2021. We have done our best to provide an overview of the details, and will update the blog as items are clarified or new information becomes available.
Governor Ducey released the details of his Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget, which covers July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022. The budget presentation, given by members of the Governor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting (OSPB), began with a summary of the state’s current fiscal health, which is strong. With last year’s adoption of the “Skinny Budget” that essentially continued FY20 expenditures into FY21, and general fund revenue greater than expected, the state has nearly $1 billion dollars in the Rainy Day Fund. Federal COVID relief funds have helped fill gaps in a number of areas, and the budget presentation included information about adjustments that were made to the FY21 budget along the way. The overall the FY22 budget proposal is $12.6 billion, an increase of about 7 percent over FY21.
Notably, the Governor has proposed a $200 million income tax cut for FY22. Details are not yet available as they will be worked out with members of the state legislature.
K-12 EDUCATION BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS
The K-12 education budget plan for FY22 calls for $250.3 million in new investments above FY21. The funding comes from a combination of state and federal sources and include ongoing and one-time expenditures.
- FORMULA FUNDING
- INFLATION AND ENROLLMENT ADJUSTMENT – $172.9 million added to the base to account for inflation and enrollment increases.
- FULL RESTORATION DISTRICT/CHARTER ADDITIONAL ASSISTANCE – $135.5 million to fulfill the Governor’s commitment to the full restoration of district and charter additional assistance (DAA/CAA). This funding restoration has the potential to free up dollars for school districts to support other priorities.
- MITIGATE LEARNING LOSS – $389 million to establish a grant program for high-impact intervention and programming to mitigate learning loss as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Governor recognizes that the pandemic has had a devastating impact on education outcomes, particularly for low-income students, and seeks to get kids back on track via programs funded through this grant. This is one-time funding from reallocated dollars, and the grant program will be implemented through the Arizona Department of Education. OSPB estimates the proposal includes enough funding to provide at least $500 per student eligible for free or reduced meal in each district or charter school that applies. Additional funding is available for supporting students who are in grades K-3, 8 and 11 this year (2020-21).
- SCHOOL CHOICE – $10 million to inform families about education options and support transportation innovations that expand school choice. As many schools moved to virtual learning to keep staff and students safe, some families took advantage of Arizona’s robust school choice opportunities. With this funding, the Governor seeks to create a new, permanent program to support families in that decision and make sure transportation is not a barrier. Of the $10 million, $500,000 will be used for a marketing campaign to make families aware of their options.
- EARLY LITERACY – $6.9 million to advance early literacy learning and instruction. This funding begins to address a critical need in Arizona as we are currently not on track to reach out state’s long-term goal for third grade reading proficiency. The $6.9 million breaks down as follows:
- $3.1 million to deploy literacy coaches to the lowest performing PK-3 schools
- $1.5 million to implement a statewide kindergarten entry evaluation (determine where students are at when they start kindergarten)
- $1.3 million to hire dyslexia and early literacy specialists, and provide literacy education training to Arizona educators
- $1 million to require and fully fund the Foundations of Reading evaluation for all new teachers
- INNOVATION – $4 million to scale innovative programs that serve vulnerable students at A for Arizona and Center for the Future of Arizona as well as $400,000 for teacher professional development programs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. This funding is made available via grants for programs that offer new solutions to long-standing problems. Funding supports both student-centered programs as well as educator professional development.
- COLLEGE ACCESS – $4.1 million for programs that set students up for success in college and other education programs
- $1.3 million to waive the fee for low-income students to take the College Placement Exam
- $2.5 million to waive the fee for low-income students to take Advanced Placement tests or other exams that award college credit to students who pass
- $364,100 for Adult Education. This state funding is needed to match funding from the federal government.
- CIVICS – $2 million to create two additional signature civics education programs.
- TEACHER RECRUITMENT – $500,000 to expand the Alternative Teacher Development Program, which is typically awarded to Teach for America – Phoenix. To receive the funding, TFA must match the state grant allocation with an equal or greater amount of private-sector funding. The Governor is also calling for the program to be extended through 2030.
- HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION AND POST HIGH SCHOOL ENROLLMENT – $400,000 to expand Jobs For Arizona Graduates, which enrolls students in innovative programs designed to keep students on track to graduate.
- SCHOOL BUILDING IMPROVEMENTS – $119 million for the Building Renewal Grant program, which provides financial assistance to school districts to repair or replace school buildings. The Governor also increased the FY21 budget for building renewal by $39 million, bringing the current fiscal year total to $146 million.
- SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION – $52.6 million to complete two schools already under construction and start construction on five new schools. $11.7 million is added to the FY21 budget to finish construction of schools in the Chandler Unified and Tanque Verde school districts. $40.9 million is for FY22 construction projects in the Liberty, Queen Creek, Sahuarita, Tanque Verde and Vail school districts.
- REDUCE K-12 ROLLOVER $30 million to pay down the continuation of a budget rollover, and for the continued deferral of $900 million of state aid for an additional year.
- RESULTS BASED FUNDING – Since FY18, the state budget has provided additional state investments for schools with high performing students (as measured by the statewide assessment). The FY22 budget program continues this program and requires that the monies be distributed based on the results of the Spring 2021 statewide assessment.
HIGHER EDUCATION HIGHLIGHTS
Overall, the FY22 budget plan includes $174 million of state and federal funding for higher education. Only $35 million represents ongoing state investments.
- COMMUNITY COLLEGES – $2.6 million for equalization aid for Cochise, Graham, Navajo and Yuma/LaPaz counties. The Governor also calls for the continued suspension of the community college funding formula.
- WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT – $35 million to support the public universities’ workforce development for the New Economy initiative, which proposes to boost postsecondary attainment, increase the number of graduates in high-demand fields, and reduce the time required to obtain a degree. This is restored permanent funding.
- COVID RELIEF – $115 million in COVID-19 relief, provided via CARES Act funding. This is one-time funding. The Governor acknowledged and thanked the universities for the significant roll they played in COVID research and data collection.
- TEACHER RECRUITMENT – $6 million in Governor’s Emergency Education Relief funding to support the state’s future teachers through the Arizona Teachers Academy. Students majoring in education, science, technology, engineering and math are eligible. Students who participate may request tuition benefits for up to four years. The Academy will also provide students who agree to teach in a critical-need area an annual stipend of $1,000. Beginning last year, the program is also open to non-resident students and community college students pursuing an advanced degree.
- FINANCIAL AID – During the Great Recession, the state suspended a statutory 2:1 state general fund match of university student fees to provide need-based financial aid to Arizona resident students. The proposal calls for the continued suspension of this statutory match.
- ACCESS TO CARE – $18 million in federal funds for the continuation of the Child Care Waitlist and for a new pilot program that provides child care to children of parents pursuing education and nursing degrees.
- COVID RELIEF – $92.7 million in federal funds for the stabilization of child care centers and to further support providers during the pandemic. These are one-time funds.
More budget information can be found on the Governor’s website.