PHOENIX — Governor Doug Ducey today released his Executive Budget for fiscal year (FY) 2019, which focuses significantly on adding more dollars to K-12 education. Additionally, the new budget is a fiscally responsible plan that protects our most vulnerable populations and public safety — while maintaining the structural balance.
“My budget continues to focus on K-12 education with 80 percent of new investments dedicated to Arizona’s public schools,” said Governor Ducey. “We take clear steps to roll back recession-era cuts to key parts of our state funding formula for schools and immediately provide an initial $100 million in permanent and flexible funding. Public schools use Additional Assistance for capital and operations, which may include additional teacher pay. In addition, we will continue critical investments that support proving more safe and loving homes for children in the state’s care, and protecting Arizona’s vulnerable adults and the elderly. We also invest in substance abuse treatment, expanded educational services, and employment centers to give more people who have served their time a second chance. The Executive Budget will also allow over 52,000 veterans living in Arizona who receive a pension to keep more of the benefits they earned by increasing the amount of their pension that is exempt from State income taxes.
Highlights of Governor Ducey’s Budget Plan:
- Invests $284 million in K-12 education above and beyond $116 million in inflation and enrollment growth funding, resulting in a total of $400 million for public schools in the FY 2019 Executive Budget. Over 80 percent, or $200 million, of new discretionary General Fund spending (including FY 2018 supplemental funding) is focused on K-12 education;
- Includes a commitment to phase in over five years a full restoration of $371 million in Additional Assistance;
- Caps payments to private prison operators in order to provide additional dollars to public education;
- Provides a total of $15.8 million to fully fund the record increase in adoptions;
- Continues support for “Second Chance” initiatives to reduce prison recidivism, including $2.4 million to the Department of Corrections for expanded substance abuse, educational, and employment center services;
- Adds resources for an enhanced Wrong-Way Driver Night Watch to improve response times to wrong-way and impaired drivers;
- Ramps up the Border Strike Force with a two-year phase-in of 24 new State Troopers, providing 24/7 highway patrols in Southern Arizona.
- Provides $15 million in tax relief to Arizona veterans who receive retirement benefits, phased-in over two years;
- And maintains structural balance.
Earlier this week, Governor Ducey released his Education Budget plan with superintendents and business officials from more than 50 Arizona public school districts, as well as business leaders.
Mike Cowan, Superintendent of Mesa Public Schools, said the plan will mean $27 million to his school district upon full implementation.
"This money will be used to fund important resources for our students: textbooks and technology, and safe learning environments for our teachers and students,” he said. “These are real dollars that will be put into the system now to help the students that we’re currently serving. I’m proud to support this plan and have great faith that legislators and policy makers will support this significant education plan.
Camille Casteel, Superintendent of Chandler Unified School District, also supported the plan.
"The proposal that Governor Ducey has announced today will impact all students regardless of their education choice, socioeconomic status, or place of residence,” she said. “Restoring this formula will help every child in Arizona and will provide the much needed relief immediately to the operation portion of the formula which some districts like ours will be fortunate to redirect toward teacher salaries. Chandler is in a unique position as we continue to experience growth and have a community who has locally supported us. Even with that, we have redirected dollars from operations to capital to meet the needs of our schools."
Calvin Baker, Superintendent of Vail School District, said the plan directly addresses the priorities of school leaders.
“Governor Ducey has heard the voices of public school leaders, responded to our priorities and come up with a plan that is a very significant step towards better funding and thus more opportunities for our students,” he said. “Now is the time for action to occur on this issue of capital funding. We can’t afford to wait any longer. We have come together for solutions in the past and clearly there is a need for us to come together to solve funding problems that loom in our future. That is why I am supporting the governor’s plan and I am encouraging others to do the same.”
The complete budget can be viewed at azgovernor.gov/budget.