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Arizona's budget surplus: Where could it go?

State lawmakers to decide on where to spend Arizona's budget surplus
Vail School District classroom
Posted at 6:52 AM, Jun 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-16 09:52:46-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Arizona has around $5 billion in their budget surplus over the next three years. The surplus has lawmakers scrambling to decide just where that money should go.

As Arizona ranks low in education funding, some lawmakers are hoping part of the money can go to our classrooms.

When it comes to K-12 education, Arizona ranks 48th in funding and 49th in spending, according to Education Data Initiative. They say in Arizona they spend around $8,700 per student, where as the average across our country for spending per student is nearly $17,000.

Arizona State Senator Paul Boyer says he'd like his constituents to come together when it comes to funding education.

"Big picture is more money for K-12 education and also higher education, including universities and community colleges," Boyer said. "So on the K-12 side, I'm looking for about a billion dollars, little north of a billion dollars, most of which would be permanent and ongoing. So 550 million for the base. What the reason why that's important, and it's kind of inside baseball, but that's important because it's really hard to cut in the future and it's also inflated. So every year, it increases for K-12. and yeah, that's what I'd like.

Of course lawmakers each have their own wish list for where they'd like to see Arizona's budget surplus go to.

Tucson Education Association President Margaret Chaney says more funding for our schools is long over due.

"We've been, our legislature, I should say, has been shortchanging our schools for decades," Chaney said. "And that's one of the reasons we have so much money in our coffers... It's time to address the need. We have made that quite clear with Red for Ed. We continue to make it clear, and we're hoping that our legislature will hear that before they adjourn this this year."

So how where will the school funding go?

"We really leave that up to the local governing boards and they determine if it's ac units, school buses, teacher salaries, hiring more teachers, and so they really determine what their needs are," Boyer said.

The governor is expected to sign the upcoming budget at the end of the month.

Denelle Veselik is an anchor and investigative reporter for KGUN 9. It's been her dream to tell your stories for the past decade. She is extremely curious and wants to continue to use her storytelling for the greater good. Share your story ideas and important issues with Denelle by emailing or by connecting on Facebook, and Twitter.