Arizona Senate stops 1.2 billion in budget cuts


On Feb. 21, the Arizona senate voted 23-6 in favor of overturning Aggregate Expenditure Limit. The Aggregate Expenditure Limit was introduced into the Arizona constitution in the 1980s, setting a school district’s budget. Every school district’s budget is combined and should be under the Aggregate Expenditure Limit; if it is over, the senate has to pass the limit allowing schools to go over budget. But this year with low school enrollment due to COVID and Prop 301, districts are worried about the limit being overruled. 

The Aggregate Expenditures Limit was introduced into the constitution when the school funding formula was introduced to the districts. The formula is changed each year based on enrollment, attendance and inflation. Then all the school districts’ budgets are combined to see if they are under the limit. If not, the limit must be overturned or budget cuts must be made.  

Due to COVID in the 20-21 school year, enrollment was down leading to a lower budget per student and a lower spending budget this year Another contributing factor to the low budget is the renewal of Prop 301. Introduced in 2001, Prop 301 increased sales tax by .6% that went back towards education. Then in 2002, Prop 104 was introduced saying that the money from Prop 301 did not have to go towards the Aggregate Expenditures Limit, which gave schools more money. In 2018, Prop 301 was extended by legislators, but Prop 104 was not. This lead to 600 million dollars generated by Prop 301 now had to be included in the limit. 

School districts currently have the funds given by the government to complete the rest of the school year, but due to the limit being reached, the house of representatives and the senate had to vote to overrule the limit. If the limit was not overruled, schools would not have access to this money and could not spend it. 

If the limit was not overruled, schools would have lost 1.2 billion dollars. Each school would have to cut 16% of their budget, and most of that budgeting is going towards teacher salary and student activities.

The senate approved going over the limit, so schools this year do not have to worry about making cuts. Schools going over budget is a common occurrence but because this year the Aggregate Expenditures limit was exceeded it became a problem. With this problem occurring this year, people are working towards getting rid of the Aggregate Expenditures limit, so the problem won’t accrue again in the future.