The Maricopa Community Colleges celebrates the signing of House Bill 2017, sponsored by Representative Steve Kaiser (R-LD15), which provides the community colleges relief from the current expenditure limitation, a formula developed in 1980 and is no longer reflective of the types of programs that industries and students demand today.
“Students need to be trained on relevant equipment to adequately prepare them for the workforce, and the current expenditure limitation formula threatens our community colleges’ ability to make this promise to our students and employers,” stated Marie Sullivan, Governing Board President of the Maricopa Community Colleges. “Modernizing the expenditure limitation formula will allow our community colleges to better prepare our students and grow our programs in the high-need industries that support and grow our state’s economy.”
Expenditure limitation challenges have been an issue widely experienced in education this year, as K-12 education also pressed against a similar constraint this past spring. Although the community college expenditure limitation is calculated differently than K-12, the reasons for a modernized expenditure limitation formula are similar.
“Community colleges play a critical role in workforce and economic development for our state,” stated Dr. Steven R. Gonzales, Interim Chancellor of the Maricopa Community Colleges. “The archaic formula from 1980 does not accurately reflect the costs to operate high-quality and competitive programs required by community colleges today. Programs demand significantly more expensive equipment and technology today than they did when the formula was developed over 40 years ago. I applaud Representative Steve Kaiser for recognizing the critical role of workforce development that our community colleges play in this state and championing this important issue at the Capitol.”
Expenditure limitation is a constitutional provision that caps spending for various governmental agencies and subdivisions, including school districts, community colleges, cities, and counties. There are differences in how expenditure limitation impacts each entity. For community colleges, it sets spending limits based on each district’s 1980 expenditures, adjusted for growth in students served and for inflation.
House Bill 2017 provides a temporary reprieve from the community college expenditure limitation formula, allowing time to thoughtfully craft a more permanent solution to this problem. The majority of community college districts in Arizona are at or close to their expenditure limit, including the Maricopa Community Colleges, and a modernization of the formula is an effort that the Maricopa Community Colleges plans to pursue in the coming years.