Arizona ranks 48th in school spending, despite posting $5.3 billion surplus

Congratulations, Arizona. Despite voters’ best efforts to change things, Arizona’s public schools remain among the most poorly funded in the nation.

A new report from the Census Bureau finds that Arizona invested less in our children’s education than all but two other states (Utah and Idaho) in fiscal year 2020. Even Mississippi spent more on its children and doesn’t that mean something?

Meanwhile, Arizona’s budget surplus is overrun and heading for the holy sh…moly on a massive scale.

Seems like a pretty easy fix. If, in fact, our leaders want to fix it.

Arizona spent $8,785 in state, local and federal funds to educate one student in the 2019-20 school year, according to the census report, released last week.

The national average, meanwhile, was $13,494.

Ducey’s response? Invest in the rich, not in the children

But what, you ask, of the spending increases approved by Arizona’s self-appointed governor of education and Republican lawmakers — the money that suddenly became available after 50,000 people descended on the streets in 2018 to demand better salaries for teachers?

According to the report, spending per student in Arizona schools has indeed increased by 17.3% between 2015 and 2020. But nationally, it has increased by an average of 18.5%, and at the Nationally, schools were already light years ahead of us in their commitment. to public education.

Another view:The best way for schools to get more money is with this simple change

It’s not for lack of trying. Arizona voters have long placed more support for education as a top priority.

In 2020, voters passed Proposition 208, the Education Investment Act, raising income taxes for the state’s wealthiest residents to increase school spending.

Governor Doug Ducey’s response in 2021 has been to invest in the wealthy by dramatically reducing their income taxes. And the Arizona Supreme Court’s response was to reject Proposition 208 as unconstitutional in 2022.

Meanwhile, we’re sitting on $5.3 billion

So here we are with lower taxes for the wealthy and the same old, poorly funded public schools for the nearly one million Arizona children who attend them.

Sen. Paul Boyer, R-Glendale, has offered to replace the lion’s share of nearly $1 billion schools lost when the Supreme Court rejected Proposition 208. But he’s about as popular as a leper in the Republican ranks, given his refusal to buy into the stolen election hysteria and the resulting “election integrity” bills to make it harder to vote.

Boyer’s school funding proposal is not a juggernaut. The state is sitting on a budget surplus of $5.3 billion.

Yet we are approaching June with no budget in place for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

This is an opportunity for Arizona, finally, to stop relegating the education of our children to the bottom of the barrel.

Why don’t the leaders care that Johnny can’t read?

I know. Money alone does not improve student performance. Isn’t that the chorus of cheapskates who short-circuit our children?

Well, they are right. Money alone will not improve our schools.

But a systemic lack of money is guaranteed to result in overcrowded classrooms, runaway teachers and a depressing number of children who can’t read.

Only two states in the entire country invest less in the education of their students than Arizona.

Meanwhile, our leaders are sitting, literally, on billions of dollars.

The question isn’t, why can’t Johnny read?

Is that why the leaders of Arizona don’t care?

Contact Roberts at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @LaurieRoberts.

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