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Highlights of the 51st Legislature First Regular Session

Highlights of the 51st Legislature First Regular Session


The Republican Majority has made tremendous strides in the past three years in balancing the books of the State of Arizona. We are already seeing signs that Arizona is one of a small number of states poised to come out of the lingering recession with solid growth and strong balance sheets. Budgeting is now required to be done not just for the current fiscal year but three years out. By FY 2016, we can now predict that Arizona will have a structurally balanced budget. Our annual revenues will exceed annual expenditures. This is impressive given the doomsayers who predicted massive cuts or increased taxes because of the end of the temporary one cent sales tax extension. In fact, the ending balance in FY 2014 is estimated at $304 million. The pessimistic predictions of an insurmountable fiscal cliff in FY 2014 have failed to materialize.

Leadership in the legislature has managed to maintain spending levels, but increase funding in just a few key areas. Total spending increased in FY 2014 by $289.9 million, or 3.35%. Noted below is additional spending above the JLBC baseline:

• K–12 Education – $99.1 million • DES – $57.4 million • Universities – $30.8 million • School Facilities – $13.8 million • Counties – $7.2 million

In addition, we have held on to the $450 million Rainy Day Fund, put in place last session to prepare us for emergencies.

Certain worthy budget items that were included in the Senate engrossed budget were stripped from the final budget passed by the Legislature. The Senate budget contained one-time funding of $850,000 for Graham County and $400,000 for Navajo County. These two counties continue to struggle financially, and this additional money was designed to provide short term relief to assist in the loss of county revenues.

The Senate engrossed budget also would have established a 3-year pilot program dedicated to online English language learner instruction. This program would have been funded for up to $3 million per year from the Structured English Immersion Fund. It would have provided a more efficient way to directly help students who are learning English as a second language. This component was also stripped from the final Legislative budget.

For the rest of the document, click here: 2013 Accomplishments of the Majority Caucus

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