Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey points finger at Legislature for holdup on school funding
PHOENIX – Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said it’s “on the Legislature” that he hasn’t called a special session to address a school spending cap on funds that already have been allocated.
“Show us the votes,” Ducey told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Wednesday.
While members of both parties have been saying enough lawmamkers are ready to vote yes on lifting the Aggregate Expenditure Limit (AEL), the Republican governor said too much of the support is conditional.
“So, it’s on leadership to tell us we have the votes. And what we’re getting right now is a lot of ‘yes if’ and ‘yes and,’” said Ducey, whose time in office is nearing an end.
“What we want to hear is 31 and 16 yeses. That’s how you get to a special session. So, that’s on the Legislature.”
The numbers refer to the majorities needed to pass bills in the 60-member House and 30-member Senate.
The AEL limits how much money Arizona K-12 public schools are allowed to spend every year, but the Legislature can lift it, as has happened in previous years. Schools risk having to cut $1.4 billion from their budgets if the cap remains in place.
“We put $11.4 billion additional dollars into the classroom,” Ducey said. “We have dollars available.
“This is something that can happen in a special session. It can happen in the next session. But you need to have the votes.”
Like Ducey, Senate President Karen Fann and House Speaker Rusty Bowers will be leaving their elected positions early next month. Ducey couldn’t run again this year because of term limits. Fann didn’t seek reelection, and Bowers lost in the Republican primary in his bid for a state Senate seat.
Fann told KTAR News earlier this month that she is in favor of lifting the AEL to let schools spend all of their approved funding.
However, she also appeared to corroborate what Ducey said about some legislative support being conditional.
“Our members would need to know what the exact language in a bill on the issue would look like before taking a vote count to know whether or not it would pass,” Fann said in a statement Dec. 1. Her office said Wednesday that her position hasn’t changed since then.
“We have some members who would like education accountability attached to the bill, while others would like some election integrity legislation included if the governor does call a special session.”
Fann also said there isn’t enough support in the Senate for the Legislature to call itself into session, which would require at least two-thirds of each chamber.
“It would have to be a move the governor makes,” she said.
KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino contributed to this report.