Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, front, waves as she arrives at the podium in front of Arizona Speaker of The House Andy Tobin, right, R-Dewey, and Arizona Senate President Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, prior to her State of the State address in the Arizona House of Representatives at the Arizona Capitol Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, in Phoenix. The Republican governor used her annual State of the State address to focus on overhauling a troubled child welfare agency, boosting the economy and changing the way schools are funded. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Ross D. Franklin

PHOENIX — Gov. Jan Brewer asked lawmakers Monday to approve a plan to give more money to schools where students show marked improvement.

The proposal, dubbed Student Success Funding, would link state aid to how well students do on standardized tests. If approved, it would be Arizona’s first link between money and performance.

“That means we stop funding the status quo and instead reward innovation and measured outcomes — and fund the results we want,” she said.


Brewer, in what is likely her last State of the State address, also laid out a wish list of proposals she said will make Arizona more economically competitive.

She wants, for example, to exempt manufacturers from having to pay the state sales tax, levied on everyone else, on the cost of electricity. Brewer said Arizona is one of only a few states that extend the tax to such firms.

“That puts our current manufacturers, and the ones we hope to recruit, at a disadvantage,” she said. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which is pushing the move, estimates the levy brings in $5 million to $10 million a year.

Brewer also said she wants lawmakers to adopt a package of other measures — not specified — that she said will attract the kind of firms that have high-paying jobs. And she is seeking a more stable source of state funds for the Translational Genomics Research Institute to do research in bioscience.

Stable college tuition

The governor also told lawmakers she wants the Arizona Board of Regents to adopt a policy that guarantees “stable in-state tuition levels” for the four years it should take a student to get an undergraduate degree.

“Arizona students and families need stability and affordability in their college education,” she said.

The governor has no actual authority in this area, other than as a member of the board. And she could face a chilly reaction from other regents.

Regents President Eileen Klein said her board has been working toward more predictability and stability. Klein said that can be done only if the governor and Legislature make “a commitment to sufficient and stable funding.”

Funds for scores

Brewer’s plan to link state aid to schools to student performance is tied to standardized testing of each of the state’s 1.1 million children in public schools. Then each student will be graded for year-over-year improvement.

A student who improves several grade levels could earn his or her school up to an extra $300 a year on top of the estimated $4,115 in basic state aid per pupil. Brewer staffers said most of the bonuses will be in the range of $10 to $60.

Schools whose students already are doing well also will earn some extra money, though not as much as the schools that can show actual improvement.

Students whose achievement lags will earn nothing extra for their schools.

The proposal would require lawmakers to come up with an extra $40 million in state aid for schools. And that’s on top of a Supreme Court order to make an annual inflation adjustment, something that could automatically add another $80 million.

The governor told lawmakers the investment is justified. She said that by 2018, three out of every five jobs in the state will require training beyond a high school diploma.