Highlights of Arizona’s Legislative Session -- Budget

Author: Janice Palmer, Vice President and Director of Policy, Helios Education Foundation

May 25, 2016

Highlights of Arizona’s Legislative Session -- Budget
The Arizona legislature recently concluded the 2016 regular session after 117 days.  The budget was passed without any cuts to K-12 education and state universities received a $32 million appropriation. While we have much work to do, our state took several, targeted steps forward to ensure high-quality education for all students.

We now know that the successful passage of Proposition 123 sets the Fiscal 2017 Base Support Level for districts and charters at $3,635.64 per student, an increase of $175 per student. This does not include the additional allocation of $625 million allocated over the next ten years under Proposition 123.
Overall K-12 education funding did not sustain cuts and saw additional funding allocated for building renewal grants (an additional $15 million, for a total of $31 million) and other smaller programs including the College Credit by Examination Incentive Program. This program, within the Arizona Department of Education (ADE), provides $5 million in Fiscal Year 2018 (for FY17 scores) to provide an incentive bonus to teachers, school districts, and charter schools for students who obtain college credits by examination while in high school.

In February, Governor Ducey signed into law SB 1525 restoring virtually all of the Joint Technical Education District (JTED) and school district career and technical education (CTE) cuts from last year’s budget, while at the same time including significant accountability measures such as a special audit conducted by the Auditor General and inclusion of JTEDs into the school academic achievement profiles. This bill restored $29 million (of the $30 million cut) for career and technical education programs.

The two remaining items of most worry to school districts and charter schools were current-year funding and cuts to the small school weight. While current-year funding will be implemented in Fiscal Year 2017, the legislature appropriated monies to backfill any school district with a loss in enrollment to ensure there is no cut to declining school districts this year. For charter schools, the charter school small school weight cut remains at 33%, instead of the scheduled 67%, ensuring additional cuts did not take place.
The Legislature appropriated $32 million in additional funds to the three universities, including $13.2 million in on-going funds and $19 million in one-time funds. Of the $13.2 million in on-going funds, $5 million is appropriated for Freedom Schools -- $3 million to Arizona State University AND $2 million to the University of Arizona.

The FY2017 budget also provides $4.1 million to align universities’ appropriations with updated projections for health insurance cost savings, exempts the universities and community colleges from the surcharge for the Arizona Department of Education longitudinal data system, a savings to them of $1.6 million; and pays off the university rollover of $200 million.

Category: Education Issues

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