“I think it’s a lot more than sad for a lot of folks.”

Arizona education budget could affect graduations, proms and lead to statewide layoffs
KOLD News 10-10:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Feb. 18, 2022 at 3:49 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -The future budget of Arizona education is up in the air. Many parents, teachers, staff and students are unhappy as a senate vote that would avoid the billion-dollar budget crisis hasn’t happened, and nobody knows when it will.

“I think it’s a lot more than sad for a lot of folks.” said Margaret Chaney the President of the Tucson Education Association.

Since 1980, Arizona has had a cap on education spending. The cap hasn’t changed or been adjusted for inflation since. Yesterday, educators and parents hoped that would change when the house of representatives approved a bill to give school districts the $1.2 billion they’d already been promised.

“This is impacting kids and they’re the ones that are going to hurt in the short term and the long run,” said Chaney.

Tonight, they wait in limbo, as the fate of the state’s education budget now lies solely in the hands of the senate.

“If it’s not lifted March 1, come April 1, districts would have to start cutting their budgets immediately,” said Chaney. “That’s money they’ve already been approved to spend.”

She says if the budget doesn’t get passed she’s fearful of what it could mean for students and teachers.

“We’re not going to be able to spend it at the end of the year for things you need most like fine arts, sports, graduation, proms and your teaching and classified staff would have to be cut and that’s statewide,” said Chaney.

Senate President Karen Fann said there just aren’t enough votes right now to lift the spending cap, but she is hopeful a deal will get done.

“I need to make sure I have eight Republicans on board,” said Fann. “Around here there are a lot of people that say not no, but heck no, and then things change and they come back and say okay they just needed a little extra time to be able to weigh in on it .”

Concerns have been raised that if the spending cap isn’t lifted by March 1 there will be widespread teacher layoffs and school closures.

Fann believes the hold out republicans are waiting for a court ruling on Prop 208, the voter approved tax hike, which could come any day now.

The big challenge is that a two-thirds majority vote is needed before the spending cap can be lifted.

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