At long last, the budget is here!
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Wow, has it been quite the week at the capitol. As you know, last Thursday we had tens of thousands of teachers, educators, parents, and students join us at the state capitol wearing red. I held open office hours Thursday, Friday, and yesterday to meet with as many of my LD18 constituents as possible. A special thanks to everyone I met with, and for their passion and commitment to getting our educators and our schools the support that they deserve.
The budget was finally unveiled last night, and believe me when I say that we are still going through it and analyzing the details contained within. Some good news: parts of the budget that were rumored to be swept aside to help make room for K-12 spending are included in the budget after all. This includes funding for the arts, the developmentally disabled, and our state universities.
Our caucus received a 2-hour briefing on the budget yesterday afternoon, and we went through an overview of each section of the budget, along with the line items for each revenue addition and subtraction.
The governor’s pay raise for teachers is a new nine percent raise, along with an extension of the one percent stipend from last year, which will be made permanent. It unfortunately does not include support staff, or other educators like librarians, custodians, counselors, etc.
There are a few other provisions in the budget that we don’t like, but they are on the minor side. They include things like $2 million for the “freedom schools” at ASU and U of A; these are schools within the universities that are funded by conservative groups like the Koch Brothers. These schools have received millions of dollars over the years while our community colleges receive zero funding from the state!
I’m busy working my way through the budget the rest of today and into tomorrow. As with every bill that comes before us, I’ll be doing a deep dive and thinking about how each of the provisions impacts my LD18 constituents.
A timeline for how the budget will likely progress: it will be heard in the Senate Appropriations committee this afternoon, and after that it will go to the Senate floor where it will be debated in open session and then voted on. This floor session could happen either Tuesday night or Wednesday – recent sessions have been known to drag on into the night and early morning if need be.
In any event, the budget will be moving quickly. I don’t think we will adjourn session this week; there’s far too many big issues left for us to tackle to be done by Thursday. But I would definitely count on us adjourning sometime next week.
I can’t say enough how much I enjoyed having so many teachers, educators, students, and parents join us at the capitol these past couple of days. Among the tens of thousands of people that joined us at the capitol, I got to meet with hundreds of people from Kyrene, Tempe Elementary, Tempe Union, Mesa, and Chandler school districts. Some of them I had met before, others I met for the first time.
Meeting with them reminded me of why I decided to run for office in the first place. As a product of the public schools in District 18, NOTHING is more important to me than keeping them strong for future generations.
Thank you for reading, and for your support – as always, the best way to show your support for the campaign is by helping us make sure we have the resources necessary to win again this November.
Yours in the fight,