TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Educators and support staff are waiting to see if the Arizona Legislature will be passing a new budget on Wednesday, May 2, gr anting them higher pay and better funding.
During the teacher walkout that began Thursday, April 26, some teachers have said they want a specific type of budget - one that's very similar to the budget in 2008 before the recession hit. The reason being that educators say they've seen a 14 percent decrease in funding since '08.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Arizona cut more funding to K-12 public schools than any other state from 2008 to 2015. Arizona is also spending 13.6 percent less per student in inflation-adjusted dollars than it did 10 years ago.
For some educators that decrease in funding is felt every day in their classrooms.
They cite the lack of capital money as being a driving force of the funding issues they deal with constantly.
"Capital money pays for everything that's not a human being. So chairs, desks, textbooks, the air conditioning in my classroom that regularly doesn't work," Amphi teacher Lisa Millerd said.
According to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, Arizona spent an inflation-adjusted $3,782 per student in 2015 as compared to $4,157 per student in 2018. Both amounts are lower than what was spent per student in 2008 according to a study from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities study.
Educators explain that the d rop in funding is problematic for students and it has a ripple effect. It's stopping new teachers from coming into the state.
"One of the major problems now is getting teachers to come to classrooms. We have, I've heard, anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 classrooms in the state that are without a certified teacher," Miller says of the impact of funding issues.
When it comes to funding there is a bright side for Arizona. Arizona is actually not the state with the worst spending per student gap. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Oklahoma has that distinction. Oklahoma is currently spending 28.2 percent less per student.
Arizona's educators and support staff members are hoping things start looking up for students across the state. They're continuing to wait anxiously for the new budget to pass.