Governor Ducey released his Fiscal Year 2019 budget. But what does it mean for our public schools and kids? Here’s a rundown of what’s in the education budget:
1. Restoration of $371 million in District Additional Assistance by 2023. This a key funding bucket that was wiped out in the recession and never fully restored. This funding will make it ALMOST whole, making it a key win for schools given the funding history of our state.
Also, this will be “advance appropriated,” which means the language will be put in statute and, therefore, law that it be appropriated this way each year. It will have no earmarks or restrictions.
Forty percent of the funding is coming from savings across agencies and other revenue enhancements across the state. Capping the private prison expansion so it can’t take more of the projected revenue increases will provide one source of revenue.
$100 million in 2019
+ $68 million in 2020 = $168 million
+ $68 million in 2021 = $236 million
+ $87 million in 2022 = $303 million
+ $67 million in 2023 = $370 million
2. $2 million for Joint Technical Education District (JTEDs) in the urban areas so they can be restored to 100 percent funding. All other JTEDs already were restored.
3. $34 million teacher pay added to last year’s $34 million totals $68 million added to teacher base pay. This is a major improvement from the schools’ point of view, making it easier to use for salaries rather than bonuses.
4. $35.2 million for school construction and repair added to $16.6 million last year for a total of $51.8 million. They will also be leveraging procurement better by creating a central inventory to do predictive analytics. This smart move is a great example of spending money effectively.
5. $5.1 million in annual debt service for an $88.1 million bond for 5 new schools or school expansions. This frees up those schools’ debt capacity to use for other things when they do bond elections locally.
6. Additional targeted investments. For the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind, a computer science grant program, and the promised $4 million to the Early Literacy Grant for a total of $12 million.There is also a FY 2018 supplemental appropriation of $10 million for school building renewal at the School Facilities Board.
The Governor's budget fully restores the inflation factor, which is also a huge support for schools. Results-based funding, which had been slated to increase, will remain at $38 million using the current methodology, resulting in similar distribution to schools as this year.
This, in addition to past smaller incremental increases, and the passage of Prop 123 in May 2016 have come a long way to support the educational infrastructure that was hit so hard by the recession. While there is work to do to ensure that these investments lead to increased learning and success for students – and therefore, success for our state – we applaud the Governor and his staff for hearing voters loud and clear. This confirms the findings of our recent poll in which 78 percent of voters say public education is their top priority.
Many of us have a sense of urgency around the educational growth needed for a lot of kids in our state. For today, let's pause and thank the Governor for this important step.Let’s encourage our legislators to support this budget, too!