This past week Governor Doug Ducey called the legislature into Special Session to consider a proposal that would increase funding for education by $3.5 billion over the next ten years. The Greater Phoenix Chamber and the business community at large fully supported these efforts and was pleased that a framework was reached to settle the five-year lawsuit between State of Arizona and Education Advocate Groups.
The K-12 lawsuit has posed a significant impediment for Arizona education, but with the work done by the Governor and Legislature this past week, Arizona is moving in the right direction. It is imperative to support our education system, including our higher education system, because this is the backbone of our economic development efforts. Now that the lawsuit is behind us, we look forward to working with all the stakeholders to address these other areas of need.
The adopted plan includes:
– A base level reset of $3,600 per student, an increase of $173 for each student and 72 percent of what the courts ordered. Within two years, the base level will reach the full amount.
– Inflation language (15-901.01) to continue as it currently exists (2 percent or the rate of inflation whichever is less) with compounding in perpetuity.
– Additional funds, in consideration of back pay, to be distributed annually: $50 million per year for the first five years & $75 million per year for the second five years
– Contingencies have been put in place to account for a severe downturn in the state economy.
The business community has been thrilled with the historic agreement, with a wide array of businesses and education organizations supporting the swift action taken. We pledge to work with all groups involved to take this to the voters in the spring of 2016 to help pass the Trust Land for Education referral. No economic incentive can match the positive impact of a great education system as an incentive to expand, grow, and bring successful companies to Arizona.