Proposition 301 Renewed

The 0.6% sales tax created by Proposition 301 is set to expire on June 30, 2021. Yesterday, by passing SB1390, the Legislature extended that tax another 20 years.

Mechanically, the current tax is in place until June 30, 2021, and the “new” tax takes over the same day and continues through 2040. This removes a looming 2020 fiscal cliff for districts, and directs an additional $64M available due to expiring bonds to the classroom site fund beginning in 2021, making it available for teacher pay.

SB1390 restores predictability to school district budgeting, and guarantees the availability of the CSF to support current teacher pay levels beyond 2021.

A Legislative extension of the tax is not voter protected, but as a result of the Arizona Supreme Court’s ruling in Cave Creek v. Ducey, inflation funding remains mandatory for the Legislature regardless of the status of the tax.

ASBA believes that even though voter protection for the tax rate and distribution is desirable, extending the tax now removes a significant piece of leverage that would have existed in 2020 to extract concessions from the education community in return for a Legislative referral.

Update on Prop. 305 Lawsuit
Voucher opponents scored another victory this week when the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that the petitions submitted by SoSAZ met the standards for “strict compliance” and cleared the way for Prop. 305 to go on the ballot in November.

Mainly at issue was the way in which the petitions were circulated and how certain petitions were notarized, as well as the manner in which the petitions indicated during which Legislative session the voucher bill, SB1431, was passed.

Ultimately, the court held that at the time the petitions were filed, no individual right to challenge petitions existed. Therefore the challenge can’t proceed.
This was the last stop for voucher proponents hoping to keep the issue off the November ballot.

We are now watching to see whether the Legislature will move to repeal the law in the wake of the ruling.

Legislative Recap: Week 11

This week was the last chance for bills to be heard in Education committees. Appropriations committees in each chamber have another week of committee meetings, but only one education bill is on the agenda so far. SB 1254 special education; cost study will be heard in House Appropriations on Wednesday.

In House Education on Monday, the committee passed SB 1411 schools; annual achievement profiles and SB 1497 teachers; principals; evaluation instrument-two bills we have been following throughout session.

In Senate Education on Thursday, the committee passed HB 2281 ELL instruction; dual language programs as well as SB 1390 TPT; additional rate; education.
Next week, both chambers will be COWing and Third Reading lots of bills and hopefully ramping up discussions about the budget.

Governor Ducey’s School Safety Plan

On Monday, the Governor’s office released their Safe Arizona Schools Action Plan to address school safety in light of the most recent school shooting in Florida. The highlights of the Governor’s plan include:
• $2M investment to increase behavioral and mental health resources on school campuses.
• Creating a central tip line for reporting school safety concerns
• Restricting firearms access for dangerous individuals through a Severe Threat Order of Protection (STOP)
• Enhancing background checks by improving the completeness and accuracy of the criminal history database
• Increasing school resource officers and law enforcement resources for schools
• Eliminating background check gaps

It creates a voluntary program that allows police officers to perform administrative tasks, like paperwork, on a school campus or in their car outside of campus to increase security. It would also create a reserve system of former law enforcement officers who are trained and certified to carry guns on campus. In addition, new investments in active shooter training for officers and school officials will be emphasized.

To read the full details of the Governor’s school safety plan, click here.