Fixing School Funding

September 29, 2014 by  

It is common knowledge that Arizona’s complicated K-12 funding system is in need of reforms that would serve students better.  Three bills last session were proposed to move us forward. 

First the good news –  the one that was signed into law: SB 1182 (school district overrides; bonds; information) addresses the problem of school districts inserting advocacy within the purpose statement in an election pamphlet. The bill requires the purpose statement to present factual information in a neutral manner. Advocacy for expenditures would be limited to where they belong–in the arguments section of the pamphlet and must include an estimated amount of property tax increase for specified properties in addition to other important info.

Unfortunately – for both taxpayers and schools, two other important bills didn’t pass in the 2014 session –

SB 1092 (school finance; funding system) was the first step in an ambitious effort to make the way Arizona funds its schools more equitable, simplified and transparent. The bill establishes the Arizona K-12 Education Fund so that all property tax money and General Fund appropriations are in one “pot”. The bill also included language that the goal in this and future related legislation would increase total funding for students. SB 1092 passed out of the Senate but died in the House of Representatives.

SB 1287 (schools; ballot language; review) established a process to void certain override elections if the ballot language was not approved by Legislative Council, as required by law – to ensure appropriate oversight.  Because elections officials have difficulty with the tight deadlines leading up to elections, the bill also increased the time needed for districts to submit proposed ballot language. The bill cleared the Senate but was held in the House Education Committee.

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