Spending limit lifted this year for Arizona public schools after Senate vote

Feb 8, 2023, 2:04 PM | Updated: 2:37 pm
(AP Photo/Matt York)...
(AP Photo/Matt York)
(AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — The aggregate expenditure limit for public schools this year was lifted Wednesday after a vote from the Arizona Senate, allowing districts to avoid massive budget cuts.

The 23-7 vote was the final step needed to lift the cap, which if not resolved by March 1 would have resulted in nearly $1.4 billion in budget cuts for the rest of the school year.

It took a 2/3 majority vote in each chamber to lift the cap. The House passed the resolution 46-14 on Tuesday.

There was no need for Gov. Katie Hobbs to sign the resolution.

“Today, the Legislature completed this long overdue action and showed our students, educators and parents that we can come together to do what’s right,” Hobbs said in a statement.

The AEL, which limits how much money Arizona K-12 school districts can spend every year, was approved by voters in 1980.

School districts warned of teacher layoffs and school shutdowns if lawmakers didn’t take action.

Mesa Public Schools, the state’s most populous district, would have had to cut $88 million from its budget.

The decision was commended by Sen. Christine Marsh, ranking Democrat on the Senate Education Committee and a former teacher.

“This is a strong show of bipartisanship and one I hope can continue as we identify a more permanent solution for our public schools,” Marsh said.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne, a Republican, commended the move.

“It is great news for the education system that the exception to the school spending limit was passed by the Legislature,” Horne said.

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Spending limit lifted this year for Arizona public schools after Senate vote