• School Finance Reform

  • Why have previous efforts failed?

    School Finance ImageNumerous reports and tweaking of Arizona's existing school finance formula through statutory changes have been completed since the formula was first created in the 1980's. Past efforts to make major revisions to the formula have failed in part because:

    • Reformers are not clear or unified on the goal they seek. What is the purpose for the reform? To save money? Improve efficiencies? Increase test scores?
    • School finance has always been handled from the perspective of winners versus losers; an inability to compromise and find a middle ground led to solutions that lost sufficient votes to doom the effort. (the 16 and 31 rule)
    • Efforts have either been too narrow (excess utilities, desegregation) or to broad (ACE initiative) and didn't contemplate a phased-approach to minimize disruption and uncertainty.
    • The Arizona State Legislature is very unlikely to pursue options that would lead to increases in residential property taxes, and the ability of business personal property tax payers to shoulder additional tax burden is limited.
    • While school districts have generally supported school finance reform that would increase state support, they have strongly opposed restrictions on their ability to raise local funds (i.e. for construction, bonding, overrides)
    • The issues of school finance have been too complex to handle as most other bills are handled, and the attention span at the legislature for difficult, long range work is extremely limited.
    • Other issues, like school choice, Title 15 reform, have a tendency to get inserted into the debates.