Senator Rios discusses spending cap, Maricopa County split

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The Arizona legislature’s recent lifting of an education spending cap was achieved with bi-partisan support, but not without some acrimony, including a reference by one republican to, quote, “Educational terrorists.” we talked about the cap-over-ride with senate minority leader Rebecca Rios, in this week’s legislative update.

With only a week remaining until the deadline, the Arizona legislature passed an override to the constitutionally-mandated education spending cap, a cap which would have prevented over 1.2 billion dollars of education funds that were already included in the budget from being spent. Despite this, Rios said that in some ways “it was a sad day”

“Plenty of Republicans voted for it, and all of the Democrats voted for it, but there were a handful of Republicans that were just downright angry. We had one Republican Michelle Ugenti-Rita that referred to the entire gallery filled with parents and teachers as ‘educational terrorists,’ to which they all just got up and walked out,” Rios said. “There was a lot of anger and resentment thrown at teachers.””

Rios noted that not only did this political battle come right down to the deadline, it’s only temporarily settled.

“It was sad to see. At the end of the day, this is money that has been in their budget that they just needed the legal okay to spend, and we drug our feet to the very end and have finally okayed it,” Rios said. “It’s important to note that we’ve only okayed it for the 2022 school year, so we either have to do this every year, or come up with a long-term fix.”

And as for House Bill 2787, a proposal to break up Maricopa County into 4 smaller counties, Rios called it “ludicrous”

“The fact of the matter is, while Maricopa does have 4 million people, the majority of those people, 93% of them, are being served by 25 cities and municipalities and that’s where people get the majority of their services, where they ask for law enforcement, or nuisance abatement, or zoning issues.” Rios said. “There are only 315,000 people, 315,000, in all of Maricopa County that have to go through the county for services. So I would argue they have much better representation just by the numbers.”

Rios also raised concerns about the fiscal cost of the measure

“I think taxpayers need to recognize that we’re going to have to make three more boards of supervisors, three more assessors, sheriffs, recorders, superintendents, three more treasurers. This is going to require each of those counties to build new jails, new courthouses, new buildings for the board of supervisors, and at the end of the day what the board of supervisors does is largely just what the legislature gives them the authority to do. ”


(D) Rebecca Rios, Arizona Senate Minority Leader

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