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Concerns raised over cuts to education

Elizabeth Medora ~ Staff~ 3/11/2015

NORTH VALLEY – Arizona’s 2016 budget proposals have evoked concerns and protests from various groups all over the state. The official 2016 budget was voted on early on the morning of Saturday, March 7, and is now awaiting the governor’s signature. The $9.1 billion budget cuts funds to community colleges, child safety funds, and temporary assistance programs.

Governor Doug Ducey praised the budget in a March 7 news release from the governor’s office; the release described the 2016 budget as the “first structurally-balanced plan since 2007.” The release further noted that this budget would eliminate “the state's structural deficit by 2017.”

“This is a budget that reflects our state's priorities and for that we should all be proud,” Ducey said in the news release.

The main budget bill passed with 32 House votes; 31 votes were required for it to pass. The bill passed with an equally slim margin in the Senate, with 16 votes.

The Arizona Education Association, Deer Valley Education Association PAC, Voices for Education, and the Cave Creek and Deer Valley Unified School Districts all disagreed with various aspects of the budget, asking for the community to contact their legislators before it was passed. The latest installment of the budget was not widely available until March 5, and it passed March 7, leaving little time for debate.

Funding has been cut completely for Maricopa County Community Colleges.

Before the budget was passed, Alex Tucker, District Manager, Communications at Maricopa County Community Colleges, shared the position of the community college district, saying that they were “not happy to see the direction this appears to be going” but that they recognized that “the budget needs to be balanced.”

“We have been taking measures to deal with reduced state aid for the past several years,” Tucker noted. “We are constantly building partnerships and pathways that will help us improve upon existing and develop new streams of revenue.”

The budget year will begin July 1.