Special Report
Federal

Ariz. Legislators Restore Vetoed School Funding

By The Associated Press — July 07, 2009 6 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Legislature met in special session Monday, with lawmakers quickly approving bills to restore vetoed funding for K-12 public schools and keep the state eligible for billions of dollars of federal stimulus funding.

The centerpiece of the four-bill package approved unanimously Monday appropriated nearly $3.3 billion of school funding, about $500 million more than in a budget provision Gov. Jan Brewer had vetoed.

While Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema of Phoenix said the legislative action ensures that school funding “is not left in limbo,” Republican Sen. John Huppenthal of Chandler warned that the state’s continuing budget troubles mean the new school funding is merely an “empty promise.”

“The cash isn’t there to back it up,” Huppenthal added.

Brewer, a Republican whose vetoes precipitated the legislative response, said she’ll sign the bills negotiated by Republican and Democratic leaders and said they bode well for the further action needed to balance the budget.

“I think it is the beginning of people hopefully taking their political banner and working together to do what’s right for Arizona,” Brewer said.

Brewer vetoed the school funding and other key parts of the budget, calling them inadequate, just hours after the Legislature approved it Wednesday.

While objecting to some budget provisions, Brewer also particularly wanted lawmakers to send her proposed sales-tax increase to voters. Most lawmakers balked at the possibility of a tax increase which Brewer contends is needed to help preserve important state services in the face of budget shortfalls.

Despite the veto of K-12 education funding, school districts weren’t yet in a funding pinch. That’s because the system on Wednesday received a $600 million appropriation that was delayed from the last fiscal year to help balance that budget. However, charter schools aren’t included in that $600 million payment and now must await a regularly scheduled July 15 payment that Brewer’s veto would block.

The four bills approved Monday didn’t touch the sales-tax issue but lawmakers acknowledged they still face what could be weeks of further negotiations to settle remaining budget differences among themselves and with Brewer.

“This is a stopgap measure here,” said Senate Appropriations Chairman Russell Pearce, R-Mesa.

Indeed, the budget remains out of balance by $2.1 billion, said Richard Stavneak, the Legislature’s budget director.

At the start of the special session, Stavneak said during a briefing of lawmakers that Brewer’s line-item vetoes of portions of the budget’s main spending bill and vetoes of entire companion bills apparently meant the state was not in compliance with federal requirements for stimulus funding.

Without any money appropriated for K-12 schools, the state wasn’t maintaining its spending at the level required by the stimulus program, putting $1 billion of “stabilization funding” for education and general government in jeopardy, Stavneak said.

An additional $1.3 billion of stimulus funding for health care for the poor was at risk because Brewer vetoed a budget bill that had provisions needed to hold down counties’ costs, Stavneak said.

“I don’t know that the governor’s office fully understood what they were doing with these vetoes but if they did it was entirely reckless,” said House Speaker Kirk Adams, R-Mesa. “It imperils all of the stimulus money.”

The bills approved Monday tackled the stimulus concerns by appropriating K-12 school funding and approving anew the provisions to hold down counties’ costs for health care.

However, lawmakers did not address other vetoes that moved the state away from a balanced budget.

Those included vetoed bills or provisions that eliminated $775 million of spending cuts throughout parts of state government and erased $1.3 billion of other budget-balancing steps, including $735 million of borrowing through refinancing prisons and other state facilities.

———

On the Net:

Arizona Legislature: http://www.azleg.gov

The Arizona Legislature met in special session Monday, with lawmakers quickly approving bills to restore vetoed funding for K-12 public schools and keep the state eligible for billions of dollars of federal stimulus funding.

The centerpiece of the four-bill package approved unanimously Monday appropriated nearly $3.3 billion of school funding, about $500 million more than in a budget provision Gov. Jan Brewer had vetoed.

While Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema of Phoenix said the legislative action ensures that school funding “is not left in limbo,” Republican Sen. John Huppenthal of Chandler warned that the state’s continuing budget troubles mean the new school funding is merely an “empty promise.”

“The cash isn’t there to back it up,” Huppenthal added.

Brewer, a Republican whose vetoes precipitated the legislative response, said she’ll sign the bills negotiated by Republican and Democratic leaders and said they bode well for the further action needed to balance the budget.

“I think it is the beginning of people hopefully taking their political banner and working together to do what’s right for Arizona,” Brewer said.

Brewer vetoed the school funding and other key parts of the budget, calling them inadequate, just hours after the Legislature approved it Wednesday.

While objecting to some budget provisions, Brewer also particularly wanted lawmakers to send her proposed sales-tax increase to voters. Most lawmakers balked at the possibility of a tax increase which Brewer contends is needed to help preserve important state services in the face of budget shortfalls.

Despite the veto of K-12 education funding, school districts weren’t yet in a funding pinch. That’s because the system on Wednesday received a $600 million appropriation that was delayed from the last fiscal year to help balance that budget. However, charter schools aren’t included in that $600 million payment and now must await a regularly scheduled July 15 payment that Brewer’s veto would block.

The four bills approved Monday didn’t touch the sales-tax issue but lawmakers acknowledged they still face what could be weeks of further negotiations to settle remaining budget differences among themselves and with Brewer.

“This is a stopgap measure here,” said Senate Appropriations Chairman Russell Pearce, R-Mesa.

Indeed, the budget remains out of balance by $2.1 billion, said Richard Stavneak, the Legislature’s budget director.

At the start of the special session, Stavneak said during a briefing of lawmakers that Brewer’s line-item vetoes of portions of the budget’s main spending bill and vetoes of entire companion bills apparently meant the state was not in compliance with federal requirements for stimulus funding.

Without any money appropriated for K-12 schools, the state wasn’t maintaining its spending at the level required by the stimulus program, putting $1 billion of “stabilization funding” for education and general government in jeopardy, Stavneak said.

An additional $1.3 billion of stimulus funding for health care for the poor was at risk because Brewer vetoed a budget bill that had provisions needed to hold down counties’ costs, Stavneak said.

“I don’t know that the governor’s office fully understood what they were doing with these vetoes but if they did it was entirely reckless,” said House Speaker Kirk Adams, R-Mesa. “It imperils all of the stimulus money.”

The bills approved Monday tackled the stimulus concerns by appropriating K-12 school funding and approving anew the provisions to hold down counties’ costs for health care.

However, lawmakers did not address other vetoes that moved the state away from a balanced budget.

Those included vetoed bills or provisions that eliminated $775 million of spending cuts throughout parts of state government and erased $1.3 billion of other budget-balancing steps, including $735 million of borrowing through refinancing prisons and other state facilities.

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Events

Budget & Finance Webinar Staffing Schools After ESSER: What School and District Leaders Need to Know
Join our newsroom for insights on investing in critical student support positions as pandemic funds expire.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
How can districts build sustainable tutoring models before the money runs out?
District leaders, low on funds, must decide: broad support for all or deep interventions for few? Let's discuss maximizing tutoring resources.
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
College & Workforce Readiness Webinar
Roundtable Webinar: Why We Created a Portrait of a Graduate
Hear from three K-12 leaders for insights into their school’s Portrait of a Graduate and learn how to create your own.
Content provided by Otus

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal K-12 Leaders Denounce Antisemitism But Reject That It's Rampant in Schools
Three school district leaders said they're committed to rooting out antisemitism during a hearing in Congress.
6 min read
From left, David Banks, chancellor of New York Public schools, speaks next to Karla Silvestre, President of the Montgomery Count (Md.) Board of Education, Emerson Sykes, Staff Attorney with the ACLU, and Enikia Ford Morthel, Superintendent of the Berkeley United School District, during a hearing on antisemitism in K-12 public schools, at the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, on May 8, 2024, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
From left, David Banks, chancellor of New York City schools, speaks next to Karla Silvestre, president of the Montgomery County, Md., school board; Emerson Sykes, staff attorney with the ACLU; and Enikia Ford Morthel, superintendent of the Berkeley Unified school district in Berkeley, Calif., during a hearing on antisemitism in K-12 public schools, at the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, on May 8, 2024, in Washington.
Jacquelyn Martin/AP
Federal Miguel Cardona in the Hot Seat: 4 Takeaways From a Contentious House Hearing
FAFSA, rising antisemitism, and Title IX dominated questioning at a U.S. House hearing with Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.
6 min read
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona testifies during a House Committee on Education and Workforce hearing on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in Washington.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona testifies during a House Committee on Education and Workforce hearing on Capitol Hill on May 7 in Washington.
Mariam Zuhaib/AP
Federal Arming Teachers Could Cause 'Accidents and More Tragedy,' Miguel Cardona Says
"This is not in my opinion a smart option,” the education secretary said at an EdWeek event.
4 min read
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona speaks during Education Week’s 2024 Leadership Symposium at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Va., on May 2, 2024.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona speaks during Education Week’s 2024 Leadership Symposium at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Va., on May 2, 2024.
Sam Mallon/Education Week
Federal Opinion Should Migrant Families Pay Tuition for Public School?
The answer must reflect an outlook that is pro-immigration, pro-compassion, and pro-law and order, writes Michael J. Petrilli.
Michael J. Petrilli
4 min read
Image of a pencil holder filled with a variety of colored pencils that match the background with international flags.
Laura Baker/Education Week via Canva