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Break the school funding cycle

The legislature has successfully addressed one of the most important issues this session by lifting the school spending limit for this school year. This allows Arizona’s public schools to spend the money they had already received and budgeted for, and avoid $1.2 billion in devastating cuts. But the threat remains. Arizona’s public schools will likely face a similar crisis next year (and probably every year thereafter) unless the legislature refers a measure to the ballot to either repeal the school spending limit permanently or, at the very least, modernize it to reflect what it costs to educate students today.

The current school spending limit is based on what it cost to educate students in 1980. While the limit is adjusted annually to account for inflation and student growth, it does not account for all of the changes that have occurred over the past four decades in how schools educate students. For example, in 1980, schools did not have computers and other technology. The need for additional school safety measures is much higher today than it was in 1980. And Arizona did not have charter schools in 1980. But the clearest evidence that Arizona needs to modernize the spending limit is that Arizona is last in the nation in funding our public schools despite already well-exceeding the spending limit. Therefore, before Arizona can increase funding for public education, we must first raise or eliminate the school spending limit. Because the school spending limit is in the state constitution, the legislature cannot make permanent changes to the spending limit – only voters can. But the legislature can refer a measure to the ballot for voters to do just that, as soon as this November’s election.

Let your state legislators know that you want them to refer a measure to the ballot this year to fix the school spending limit so that we don’t have to do this all over again next year.

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