TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Although the state approved budgets for Arizona school districts last year, those districts are now exceeding a statewide spending cap, known as the aggregate spending limit.
The state legislature has the power to reverse massive cuts for school districts before the March 1 deadline, but a deal doesn’t seem close.
State Democrat Morgan Abraham represents the 10th Legislative District, which covers Midtown Tucson and the East Side.
He says he doesn’t share the same confidence as Gov. Doug Ducey that a deal will be done before the deadline.
“There are no discussions, there is no indication that it will happen next week,” he told KGUN on Friday.
Abraham says politics hold back progress.
“What several Republicans have told me is that they want to see a ‘holistic education program,'” he said. “That’s the code word for ‘We don’t just want to tackle the overall spending limit. We want to throw some of our other priorities in there.
According to Abraham, those priorities include expanded voucher programs and the killing of Prop 208, a voter-approved tax hike currently under review by the Arizona Supreme Court.
Abraham thinks the spending limit should be an entirely separate issue.
“For me, it’s like: let’s keep our children in school,” he said. “Let’s keep the train on track.
State Senator and Education Committee Chairman Paul Boyer and other Republicans point out that funding for education in Arizona has already increased in recent years.
“It would help if everyone at least recognized the reality: that the reason we are where we are is because we have invested so many dollars in K-12 education,” he told the Senate of state this week.
Seemingly at an impasse at the moment – neither party can exceed the spending limit without votes from the other.
“I really hope it doesn’t come down to the 11th hour, but I think people should be prepared for that,” Abraham said. “School districts need to be ready. Parents need to be prepared in case their schools should close.
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