Educators call for a permanent fix to Arizona’s education spending cap

GOP Representative Matt Gress says he wants to modernize the education spending cap rules.
Published: Feb. 14, 2023 at 8:31 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- While thousands of visitors explored Arizona last week, lawmakers lifted the state’s education spending cap, avoiding widespread layoffs and school closures. Now some are calling for a more permanent solution.

The group Stand for Children Arizona will be at the Arizona State Capitol today along with parents, kids, and education leaders urging lawmakers to find a long-term solution when it comes to education funding. “We’re excited because we’re gonna have little kids delivering these Valentine’s Day cards to the Senate leadership,” Daniel Hernandez with the Stand for Children Arizona said.

Last year’s bipartisan state budget gave schools a big boost in funding, but districts couldn’t spend the money already allocated to them without the legislature lifting the state’s decades-old cap on education funding. As in 2022, it came down to the wire for lawmakers to lift the cap by a two-thirds majority. Many individuals are worried this will happen every year unless there’s a more permanent fix.

“We are really, really concerned this becomes a political football where every year we tell the schools, you can spend this money or not really because we are not going to give you the authority to spend the money we’ve already given you. We’re going to create a situation which is already untenable,” Hernandez said.

GOP Representative Matt Gress with District Four says it’s time to modernize the education spending cap rules. “This will happen every single year until we update that formula, and I think there’s widespread interest to do so,” he said. Hernandez is pushing for the legislature to refer this issue to the 2024 ballot so voters have the ultimate say.