Legislators say they’re working on plans that could adjust special education funding, affect school safety and workforce development as well as update K-12 funding.
Over the interim, eight separate legislative work groups including teachers have examined and discussed education issues, but it’s hard to tell before the session starts in January which one is going to end up being the major issue, said Rep. Michelle Udall, (R-LD 25), House Education Committee chair and House Appropriations Committee member.
“We’re going to try to talk about a lot of big issues from school facilities to funding to school safety to something called innovation zones,” said Rep. Udall, during a panel moderated by KJZZ 91.5 FM Producer Katie Campbell at the Legislative Workshop sponsored by Arizona School Boards Association on Nov. 15, 2019, in Mesa.
Video by Angelica Miranda/AZEdNews: Legislators’ work on plans for upcoming budget
Legislators will also look more closely at unfunded mandates this session to make sure teachers and principals are getting extra time and fair compensation for what they’re asked to do, Rep. Udall said.
There is a lot at stake, said Rep. Aaron Lieberman, (D-LD 28), House Education Committee member and House Appropriations Committee member.
“There’ll be a lot of activity and a lot of opportunities, especially because of the financial situation that the state is in,” said Rep. Lieberman, during the panel. “Many people feel like this is a great time to actually start making some additional investments in education – getting district additional assistance restored and a whole set of things.”
Those other things might include investments in Pre-K and charter school reform, said Rep. Lieberman, a former teacher.
“It will be interesting to see when we get down there everything that happens,” Rep. Lieberman said.
The Joint Legislative Budget Committee has forecast a $694 million budget surplus, but most of that is one-time money, Rep Udall said.
“While it’s nice to say we’re going to do this in perpetuity, a lot of the things that you’ll see in the budget this year will be one-time,” said Rep. Udall said. “You’ll see some infrastructure things. You’ll see some one-time spending on school repairs and things like that, but you probably won’t see a lot of long-term stuff unless we find a revenue stream that we can agree on.”
Legislators’ plans for school safety, special ed, K-12 funding