Superintendent Hoffman asks, “When will be the right time to fund education?”
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman today issued the following statement regarding the fiscal year 2020 state budget:
“This year, the state made some movements in the right direction by funding several K-12 education initiatives, including giving schools more money to spend on new counselors, the next installment of the promised 20x2020 teacher raises, and increased funding to address our teacher shortage by training the next generation of educators. However, it is disheartening to see another tax cut of nearly $400 million when Arizona’s education spending remains among the lowest in the nation.
“While the department received critical funds needed to begin upgrading our school finance payment system, currently running on outdated 1990’s technology, many of our budget requests were not granted. We were not given the spending authority for anywhere close to what is needed to manage the ESA program effectively and efficiently. This money would have directly supported ESA families with improved customer service, as well as helped us provide a smooth transition to our new ESA payment system. This new payment system will make it easier for families to appropriately spend their funds and cut back on cumbersome processes which currently leave too much room for error or misspending to occur. Another statutorily mandated program, the Office of Indian Education, also remains unfunded. Additionally, this budget places a strain on available federal matching funds to support Adult Education programs, money which would have directly prepared individuals for the workforce.
“I have had the wonderful opportunity to travel the state, meeting with countless administrators, teachers, and students. These visits have made clear to me that we must return to pre-recession funding levels, with a sustainable, dedicated revenue source. Next session, I look forward to fighting for this as well as for increased special education funding. I will also continue to advocate for more money to support the paraprofessionals and other school employees who play a vital role in educating our students.
“All students deserve access to a high-quality public education - no matter their zip code or their background. If the state cannot bring itself to fully fund education during a year with a massive budget surplus, when will it do so? We must find the collective will to make this happen. Our future depends on it.”