PHOENIX — State lawmakers gave final approval late Thursday to a $9.8 billion spending plan for the coming year.
The budget is fueled with anticipated revenues of $9.68 billion. But that is being supplemented by $171 million that lawmakers hope to have left over when the current fiscal year ends on June 30.
Teachers get a raise
One of the highlights is a 1 percent pay hike for teachers for the coming fiscal year at a cost of $34 million.
The actual increase will be 1.06 percent. That’s because some school districts have enough local revenues so they get no state aid at all and will have to fund the pay hikes out of their own tax collections. So the difference is being redistributed to the other school districts.
An identical 1.06 percent increase for teachers will kick in the following school year.
The increase is far above the 0.4 percent annual boost for five years proposed in January by Gov. Doug Ducey. But Democrats, citing the state’s low teacher wages, were unsuccessful in getting the increase raised to 4 percent.
University funding, bonds
The budget also includes one-time additional aid to universities of $15 million. But there’s really less here than meets the eye. That’s because the schools got $19 million in one-time dollars last year.
And of that $15 million, $2 million is earmarked to fund “economic freedom schools” at the University of Arizona and Arizona State Universities, schools started with seed money from the Koch brothers.
There also is authorization for the universities to borrow $1 billion for needed construction and repairs. But there is no immediate fiscal impact, with the first promised state aid of $27 million to repay those bonds coming in the following budget year.
- Results-based funding bonuses for certain public schools — $37.6 million, a program some opponents say disproportionately rewards schools in affluent areas;
- Additional dollars for health-care providers to deal with higher minimum wage — $33 million plus $10 million one-time spending;
- Move dollars from a special ADOT account to instead fund highway construction and repair — $30 million;
- Removes $1.6 million in gang funding from Maricopa County, giving $400,000 to Pima County and the balance to test rape kits;
- Provides $62.9 million to construct six new schools, but does not fully fund building renewal formula lawmakers enacted to comply with Supreme Court order;
- $3 million to expand broadband into rural areas;
- $1.5 million for emergency dental services for needy adults.