PHOENIX – The Arizona House has passed a package of bills that will pump $3.5 billion into K-12 education and settle a five-year-old lawsuit filed by schools that didn’t receive required inflation boosts during the Great Recession.
Thursday night’s action sends the package of bills to the House. It came without any Democratic votes on two of the bills, but with unanimous support for the third bill in the Republican-controlled House. That legislation actually appropriates the money.
Democrats objected to several aspects of the package, but especially to a hard cap on increasing school funding beyond half the state budget that takes effect at the end of the 10-year funding plan. They also opposed Gov. Doug Ducey’s plan to boost withdrawals from the state land trust to pay for more than half the plan.
The Senate plans to meet Friday morning. If the GOP-controlled Senate approves the bills as expected, they go to Republican Ducey for his promised signature.
Voters would then have to approve the whole agreement in a May 17 special election.
Backers say the 50 percent cap is needed to keep spending down. House minority leader Eric Meyer said the cap could prevent the state from cutting class sizes or making other improvements in school funding.