In the Feb 9, 2013 Legislative Report, Senator Melvin said the Joint Legislative budget committee told him that, during the four “horrendous” years of the recession, the state never let per pupil funding drop below $9,000, when all sources of revenue, including local and federal funds, are taken into consideration. He noted that lawmakers “moved heaven and earth,” including mortgaging state buildings, to protect that K-12 funding. Melvin’s remarks prompted Senator Crandall to interject that the challenge of looking at aggregate numbers is that it “masks the deep cuts to certain districts and charters.” Those were very, very deep cuts but they were masked by new construction we did in other districts or debt service from previous years over time.”
Senator Melvin can couch it however he wants. The #1 truth with regard to per pupil funding in Arizona is that since 2008, our legislature has made deeper cuts than any other state in the nation. Federal funding in the form of stimulus money is what’s kept the funding from falling any further. The other truth is that education performance in Arizona is 46th in the nation.
Our legislators can continue to play a shell game with funding and responsibility for fixing our education, or they can step up to the task of addressing and resolving the problems. We need to hold them accountable for doing the latter!