Stand for Children Arizona applauds Governor Hobbs for her strong display of leadership in her first State of the State address. Her call for bipartisanship to tackle key issues signals a unique landscape for our students and schools. It is evident, more than ever, that Arizonans need their leaders to act, and Governor Hobbs has made her message clear: if we are to make progress, we need to work together.
Heading into this legislative session, schools are struggling with burdensome policies such as the Aggregate Expenditure Limit (AEL) blocking schools from critical funding that was allocated in last year’s state budget, and the extreme budgetary consequences from the unaccountable ESA voucher program from previous Governor Doug Ducey’s administration. The current cost is well over $300 million – much higher than advertised during the budget process last year.
In her speech, Governor Hobbs appropriately called on the legislature to act quickly to address the AEL. As one of the organizations that led the charge to increase school funding last session, Stand for Children Arizona couldn’t agree more that legislators have an obligation to honor the promise made to fix the AEL as soon as possible – both for this year, and in the long term.
It is estimated that if the AEL is not waived this year, districts will be forced to cut 17% of their budget, a total of $1.3 billion taken from our local schools. This could result in shortened school years, a deeper teacher shortage, and decaying buildings and infrastructure.
In Stand for Children Arizona’s annual poll, voters indicated they want the AEL fixed immediately as well.
The December 2022 results showed that:
- When asked if there were to be a statewide ballot measure that would permanently raise the expenditure limit, 62% of Arizonans said they would vote “Yes” on it.
- When asked the same question, but for a ballot measure that would remove the limit altogether, 54% said they would vote “Yes”.
Also, according to our survey, the legislature heads into 2023 with 54% of voters unhappy with their performance – the highest it has ever been in our survey’s history. We hope that legislators will put kids before politics, and work together with Governor Hobbs to support our students and teachers.