Arizona superintendent urges lawmakers to lift spending cap for school districts

Arizona superintendent of public instruction Kathy Hoffman is calling on lawmakers to lift the spending limit placed on schools.
Published: Sep. 7, 2022 at 7:12 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Arizona schools just got a big boost in funding from the state, but due to a 42-year-old cap on spending, districts can’t use that money. Superintendent Kathy Hoffman is urging lawmakers to lift the cap, saying it could help ease the ongoing teacher shortage. Before adjourning this year, the GOP-led legislature signed a budget agreement that added nearly $1 billion in school funding. However, districts won’t be able to use all the money because of a spending limit based on a formula set back in 1980.

Hoffman fought to convince lawmakers that the cap is outdated and should be repealed. “I am appalled there’s not been action taken,” she said. “That’s what should have been done rather than basically making this a political weaponize issue.”

The lack of financial certainty is creating more challenges for districts already struggling with a massive teacher shortage. “Why are we wasting our time on this? Why are we causing so much angst for our district school leaders when the simple solution is to completely repeal that cap?” Hoffman asked. The superintendent is now calling for a special session for lawmakers to address the issue. However, Gov. Doug Ducey declined to comment about the possibility of the special session, and there are no signs the Legislature will hold one just two months before Election Day.

The issue could be up to Arizona’s next governor, between Republican nominee Kari Lake and Democrat Katie Hobbs. Lake has previously said she will do everything possible to get more money into Arizona schools and would address the situation next year if elected. Hobbs has not commented on the issue.