August 17, 2022

2022 Legislative Session Wrap Up

After one of the longest legislative sessions on record, Arizona legislators wrapped up their session in June.

While we were pleased with many of the investments made in the budget for education, including funding for low-income students, special education students and increasing the Arizona Promise Scholarship program, we were disheartened that a more comprehensive P-20 funding solution was not addressed. We were also disappointed with the passage of universal vouchers. Read more about our thoughts on how the budget fell short and the expansion of universal vouchers.

This year we advocated for a number of priority bills—many of which moved forward.

Here’s a look at how our education priorities fared during this year’s session.

K-12 Priorities

K-3 Early Literacy; Reading Plans

HB2026 was signed into law, which supports the implementation of the State Board of Education’s recommendations on K-3 literacy.

High-Quality Teacher Professional Development Program

A law was passed that will formalize a High-Quality Teacher Professional Development Program to help increase the number of teachers in STEM and CTE fields by giving them scholarships of up to $2,000 for professional development in exchange for agreeing to teach in an Arizona school for three years.

Aggregate Expenditure Limit

In February, the legislature passed a resolution to allow K-12 public district schools to exceed the Aggregate Expenditure Limit (a formula-based school spending cap set by voters in 1980) by a specific amount for the 2021-2022 school year.

Postsecondary Priorities

Tribal College Dual Enrollment

SB1300 now allows Tribal colleges to offer dual enrollment courses in tribal language, culture and government to students off of their reservation. Dual enrollment courses provide an opportunity for high school students to take college courses and earn credits.

Students with Disabilities Transitioning to College

HB2031 will give students with disabilities with a smoother transition to college. This law allows students with disabilities to use the existing documentation of their disability at an Arizona community college or university without having to do so again.

STEM Funding for Community Colleges

HB2017 provides funding for Pima, Maricopa and Pinal’s community colleges STEM and workforce initiatives and gives a one-year reprieve from the community college’s aggregate expenditure limit.

Adult Education and Workforce Development

HB2122 will make it easier for people ages 21 and up to earn their diploma and a postsecondary credential. It also establishes the Community College Adult Education Workforce Development Program and will fund programs at the community colleges to lead to credentials or degrees. 

Arizona Board of Regents Continuation

Additionally, a bill was passed to continue the Arizona Board of Regents for five years, the Arizona governing body of Arizona’s public university system.

Other Bills

Unfortunately, there were bills that passed that we did not support.

Universal Voucher Expansion

HB2853 expands eligibility for school vouchers to all Arizona students, a mass expansion that could take hundreds of millions of dollars out of the K-12 system with little fiscal or academic accountability.

Teacher Certification; Leadership Preparation Programs

SB1159 allows school leaders to be certified at the local level, with guidance from the State Board of Education. The bill also clarifies conditions in which students pursuing a bachelor’s degree can teach with the presence of a certified teacher, coach or mentor (but not be the teacher of record).  We were glad to see a provision to allow subject matter experts to teach in grades K-5 removed from the final version of the bill, but remain concerned with moving school leader certification to the local level.

What We’re Watching

The legislature needs to address the school funding cap not just for this current school year, but in a permanent way. We call on the Governor and legislature to address this issue as soon as possible so schools have certainty over their budgets for this school year.