The 2018 legislative session concluded last week, capped off by a nearly 24-hour work day on the budget last Wednesday. This session was focused on K-12 education funding, as we sought to get our local schools and our teachers more support.
I held open office hours for our community and met with hundreds of teachers, educators, parents and students throughout the week, expressing my firm commitment to our local schools and getting them more support.
As a product of the Kyrene Elementary and Tempe Union school districts, supporting them will always be my No. 1 priority.
The budget we passed is not perfect. While it does make some investments in our K-12 schools and gives our hard-working teachers a pay raise, more steps are needed.
For example, the pay raise does not include counselors, librarians, and other support staff positions.
There are also concerns about the sustainability of future revenue projections, which could lead to budget deficits as soon as next year.
I also supported amendments to the budget that would have made further gains, like appropriating more money for school counselors, capping class sizes and including support staff in the pay raise.
Unfortunately, these amendments were rejected and we faced a vote on the overall budget that the governor proposed.
I voted “yes” on Governor Ducey’s budget because I view it as the first step in a long-term project to restore funding to our schools and our classrooms.
There is a lot of work left to do, and I plan to hold the governor and the Legislature accountable if more investments are not made in future years.
The budget we passed last week would not have been possible without the hard work, tenacity and persistence of the thousands of teachers, educators, parents and students who joined us at the Capitol over the past couple of weeks.
The RedforEd movement succeeded in putting pressure on the governor and the Legislature – back in January, the governor’s budget proposal called for only a 1 percent raise for our teachers.
In response to the pressure from educators, the governor increased that to 20 percent over three years.
It’s important that we keep up that pressure. With this budget being step one, the second step is working to re-elect and elect legislators who will always make supporting our local public schools their No. 1 priority, and oppose those who seek to expand vouchers or eliminate revenue sources in the budget, making investing in our schools more difficult.
When I campaigned to be your state senator in 2016, I made two promises: I would work to restore education funding, and work to bring some bipartisanship back to the state Capitol. Voting yes on this budget keeps both of those promises.
As long as I am fortunate enough to represent our community at the Capitol, I will continue to fight for more investment in our local schools and govern in a bipartisan way.