TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Governor Doug Ducey released his executive budget for the fiscal year 2019 on Friday.
The $10.1 billion budget focuses significantly on adding more dollars to K-12 education.
"My budget continues to focus on K-12 education with 80 percent of new investments dedicated to Arizona's public schools," Ducey said. "We take clear steps to roll back recession-era cuts to key parts of our state funding formula for schools and immediately provide an initial $100 million in permanent and flexible funding. Public schools use Additional Assistance for capital and operations, which may include additional teacher pay. In addition, we will continue critical investments that support proving more safe and loving homes for children in the state's care, and protecting Arizona's vulnerable adults and the elderly.
- Invests $284 million in K-12 education above and beyond $116 million in inflation and enrollment growth funding, resulting in a total of $400 million for public schools in the FY 2019 Executive Budget. Over 80 percent, or $200 million, of new discretionary General Fund spending (including FY 2018 supplemental funding) is focused on K-12 education;
- Includes a commitment to phase in over five years a full restoration of $371 million in Additional Assistance;
- Caps payments to private operators in order to provide additional dollars to public education;
- Provides a total of $15.8 million to fully fund the record increase in adoptions;
- Continues support for “Second Chance” initiatives to reduce prison recidivism, including $2.4 million to the Department of Corrections for expanded substance abuse, educational, and employment center services;
- Adds resources for an enhanced Wrong-Way Driver Night Watch to improve response times to wrong-way and impaired drivers;
- Ramps up the Border Strike Force with a two-year phase-in of 24 new State Troopers, providing 24/7 highway patrols in Southern Arizona.
- Provides $15 million in tax relief to Arizona veterans who receive retirement benefits, phased-in over two years;
- And maintains structural balance.
The summary of Ducey's budget can be read HERE.
The state agency budget can be viewed below while the state funds document is available HERE.
Several education officials applauded the fund plan. You can read more HERE are look below.
Superintendent Diane Douglas Applauds Governor's Budget Proposal
It is great to finally see a path forward to restoring recession-era cuts to Arizona's school facilities," Superintendent Douglas said. "It was most encouraging to see one of the plaintiffs in the pending school facilities lawsuit discontinue its litigation in response to this proposal.
"I have always preferred paying teachers instead of lawyers. I am pleased to join Senate President (Steve) Yarbrough, House Speaker (J.D.) Mesnard, as well as local school superintendents and officials in supporting the plan."
The Governor's plan, unveiled at a press conference on Tuesday, outlined a five-year phase-in of funds to both district and charter additional assistance funds. The funds can be used for school facilities, but will provide districts and schools with the flexibility to support such needs as teacher salaries.
The Governor's budget also designates $7.4 million towards important needs at the Arizona Department of Education. This includes $5.3 million to ensure the continued maintenance of the Department's nationally recognized student data system, $1.1 million for the continued development and implementation of high-quality Arizona academic standards, as well as an additional $1 million for statewide assessments.
"I'm pleased that the proposed budget acknowledges real needs at the Department," Superintendent Douglas continued. "Maintaining our IT system is vital to helping state leaders, districts and schools support Arizona's students. It is also important that we will have the resources to continue building strong Arizona standards, especially since we have gotten rid of Common Core."
Statement from ABOR President Eileen Klein:
"Both K-12 and higher education are paramount to a thriving economy, competitive workforce and strong future. Governor Doug Ducey's budget proposal clearly prioritizes public education. We appreciate his support and value his ongoing commitment to bolster our public universities in setting these priorities for our state.
"Last year, the governor and Legislature made possible a landmark $1 billion investment in Arizona's public universities to support critical research and development infrastructure at Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona. The executive budget released today keeps this commitment to long-term capital investment so we can continue to serve the state's growing population.
"The majority of our students come from Arizona. But with a growing economy and rising workforce expectations, we need even more students throughout our state who are prepared to learn after high school. We are pleased that the governor's budget again makes K-12 education the largest beneficiary of new state dollars over the coming year to help more students get the education they need to prepare
for work and college.
"Our state leaders play a critical role in helping to keep a college education within the reach of all families. In the days ahead, the Arizona Board of Regents will consider the governor's budget recommendations in greater detail. We will remain in close contact with the governor, legislators and staff members throughout the budget process and – as always – remain committed to ensuring the voices of Arizona students and families are taken into account as the state budget is finalized."
Mike Cowan, Superintendent of Mesa Public Schools, said the plan will mean $27 million to his school district upon full implementation.
"This money will be used to fund important resources for our students: textbooks and technology, and safe learning environments for our teachers and students," he said. "These are real dollars that will be put into the system now to help the students that we're currently serving. I'm proud to support this plan and have great faith that legislators and policymakers will support this significant education plan.
Camille Casteel, Superintendent of Chandler Unified School District, also supported the plan.
"The proposal that Governor Ducey has announced today will impact all students regardless of their education choice, socioeconomic status, or place of residence," she said. "Restoring this formula will help every child in Arizona and will provide the much-needed relief immediately to the operation portion of the formula which some districts like ours will be fortunate to redirect toward teacher salaries. Chandler is in a unique position as we continue to experience growth and have a community who has locally supported us. Even with that, we have redirected dollars from operations to capital to meet the needs of our schools."