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Arizona teachers upset at lawmakers for halting school budget crisis

The House passed a bill Tuesday that would lift the spending limit on education, as set by the state Constitution.
Published: Feb. 16, 2022 at 5:12 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- The Arizona House of Representatives took a major step towards avoiding a $1.2 billion budget crisis in school districts across the state. But that progress came to a screeching halt in the State Senate.

“Teachers and educators are at the end of our rope, and to hear the games they are playing down here is just beyond devastating,” said Phoenix teacher and parent Raquel Mamani.

The House passed a bill Tuesday that would lift the spending limit on education, as set by the state Constitution. Educators were hopeful the Senate would do the same on Wednesday, but that didn’t happen.

Senate President Karen Fann (R-Prescott) said there aren’t enough votes right now to get the 2/3 majority needed to lift the spending cap, but she is hopeful a deal will get done.

“Around here, there are a lot of people that say not no, but heck no, and then things change, and they come back and say OK,” said Fann. “I am in favor of getting this passed to let students, teachers, and parents to be able to finish the school year without interruption.”

Concerns have been raised that there will be widespread teacher layoffs and school closures if the spending cap isn’t lifted by March 1st. School districts would not receive $1.2 billion in education funding, already approved by the legislature.

Beth Lewis, with Save Our Schools, said with Arizona facing a significant teacher shortage, lawmakers need to get their priorities straight.

“I’m really disappointed to see there was no vote today,” said Lewis. “I think it is a simple path forward. Arizona people are watching, and they expect politicians not to play games with our kids. I think all of Arizona is disappointed in the Senate right now.”

Fann said a few of the hold-out Republican lawmakers are waiting for a court ruling on Prop 208, the education tax hike that Arizona voters approved last year. That ruling is expected at any time.