United States

Arizona lawmakers to debate school spending cap Thursday

(The Center Square)- The Arizona House of Representatives will review a constitutional cap on school spending Thursday.

Rep. Matt Gress, chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Budgetary Funding Formulas, said in a news release on Tuesday that the subcommittee hearing will look at the hotly debated Aggregate Expenditure Limit, which originated in 1980 as a state constitutional amendment.

“The purpose of this committee hearing is to ensure the record investments we’ve made in K-12 education over the last eight years are effectively and responsibly spent so that we can properly invest in our state’s future leaders,” said the Republican Gress, who served as former Gov. Doug Ducey’s budget director.

“We must prioritize ALL Arizona students – they all deserve access to a quality education. I look forward to hearing from Arizona public officials and leading experts on our complex formula system and am committed to finding solutions that keep our schools open, strengthen Arizona education, and put parents in the driver’s seat of their child’s education,” he added.

Democrats say Republicans had agreed to lift the AEL in the previous session as part of an agreement on the enacted budget.

The news release attributes the need for review to “record investments” in education from Ducey and state lawmakers.

The AEL is an amount set with a specific formula for K-12 schools, and there’s a March 1 deadline for the legislature to waive the limit for the year, 12 News reported. In his final days in office, the former governor faced pressure to call a special session on the AEL specifically, but no session ended up taking place.

Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne is expected to testify at the hearing, in addition to Arizona Tax Research Association President Kevin McCarthy, the news release said. Horne told KTAR News last week that he supports the legislature voting to lift the limit to avoid K-12 schools having to make major cuts.

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