Arizona lawmakers are finalizing the FY2020 budget and their investment in education shows our teachers and classrooms are a top priority.

The scope and scale of the recent investments in Arizona’s K-12 education budget is massive. Last year, more than a half-billion dollars was invested and restored for Arizona schools in a single year.

As Gov. Ducey says, “we’ll never check the box on education.”

This budget continues the trend of investing in our students and schools with the addition of another $600 million in funding. That puts the two-year total of new and restored investments for K-12 north of $1 billion. With the passage of this pro-education budget, Arizona will invest over $7.5 billion into our K-12 education system.

Here is how the dollars break down:

  • First and foremost, the second payment for a 20 percent teacher pay raise will be provided to schools for the upcoming school year. By the time the final installment is appropriated next year, a total of $750 million new dollars will be dedicated to teacher pay. All of those dollars are eligible to be inflated each year.
  • $175 million is going to schools to pay for inflation and new students to our public school system.
  • $136 million in restored “additional assistance” is added to the $100M restored last year. These dollars cover everything from classroom supplies to payroll. This means that $236 million has been returned to schools the last two years with about another $150 million on its way in future budgets to complete the $400 million additional assistance restoration.
  • $68 million total for great schools to serve more students, especially in low income communities. This is important for students on wait lists and neighborhoods in need of quality options for kids.
  • $100 million, including a supplemental for this current year, for building renewal dollars to keep school buildings safe and maintained; and another $79 million to build new schools.

Add in funding for school counselors, industry certification for high school students pursuing technical education, scholarships to grow the number of STEM teachers, and new positions at the State Charter Board to improve charter school transparency and compliance, and we have ourselves a substantive, well-rounded budget that is in service to our students.

Seldom do we see a $600 million appropriation for K-12 education in a single year. We are just a final vote on the budget away from seeing this happen two years in a row.

When asking if the state is taking investment into K-12 seriously enough, the billion-dollar answer is clearly, “Yes!”