Arizona superintendent speaks on education spending cap

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The Arizona House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to pass a one-time lifting of an education spending cap that would’ve forced school districts to cut 16-percent of their budgets for the current school year. We talked about that and other education issues with Kathy Hoffman, Arizona’s Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Without this move, the cap would result in a $1.1 billion reduction in state education funding for the year. However, the bill passed by the house is a one-time exception for this year only.

“It is a win that we can get on with the school year,” Hoffman said. “However, in the future, I would like to see this cap fully repealed because it is a very antiquated law. It doesn’t make any sense to be held to a cap set back 40 years ago when Arizona looked completely different.”

The Arizona Senate has not yet passed the bill, with some Republicans aiming for another proposal that would include an expansion of the state’s school voucher along with the removal of the spending cap.

“I don’t support anything that complicates this issue any further. I’m glad that right now we’re looking at a clean proposal to override the cap, which is how it should be,” Hoffman said.

The spending cap has become a partisan issue, with all Democrats in both the House and Senate voting to remove the cap.

One facet of educational spending is teacher pay. With Arizona having the lowest average teacher income in the country, it has become a perennial issue.

“We had the 20 by 2020 plan, but now we’re in 2022 believe it or not, so we need the next iteration of that. How are we going to continue to make sure that there’s state investment in our teacher workforce?” Hoffman said.

The deadline to bypass the spending cap is March 1.

Kathy Hoffman, Arizona’s Superintendent of Public Instruction.

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