PAGE — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed a $11.4 billion spending bill Friday.
It includes major investments in education, law enforcement, health care and infrastructure, and brings the state’s Rainy Day Fund to a record $1 billion.
Ducey said, “This is by far the best budget I have signed, and such a contrast to where our state was just four years ago. This budget learns from the mistakes of the past, and it makes an historic down payment on Arizona’s future.”
Ducey also delivered on his promise to 20,000 Arizona teachers who protested for better pay and went on strike from April 26–May 3, 2018. The budget includes $164.7 million for a fully funded 20 percent raise for K-12 teachers.
This moves the median teacher salary in Arizona to $52,725. Teacher salaries had not kept pace with inflation. When adjusted for inflation, they were $8,000-$9,000 below 1990 salaries.
The raise puts in Arizona teachers on par with national pay averages. In all, Arizona will spend $401 million on education, including $14.2 million for rural community colleges outside of Pima and Maricopa County, and $1 million for Diné College.
Other highlights of the 2020 budget:
Out of character with current national trends, Arizona acknowledges the Arts as an economic force with a $2.2 million investment.
$1.1 million will go toward marketing programs to attract tourism. $950,000 will be dedicated to maintaining Arizona’s hiking trails and $1.25 million will go the Tonto Natural Bridge restoration.
Wildfires are growing national concern. The budget calls for $20 million to “promptly reimburse local Arizona fire districts for combating wildfires,” $1 million to increase funds for the Forestry Hazardous Vegetation Removal, $3 million annually, to remove vegetation that poses fire risks to property and life, and $1 million for a forestry fire training center in Snowflake, Arizona.
In health and welfare, the state will distribute $56 million in federal funds for child care subsidies for low-income, working families and depositing $15 million into the state Housing Trust Fund to prevent and alleviate homelessness. $1.6 million is allocated to reduce suicides in Arizona’s military and veteran population. Arizona food banks will get $1 million.
For infrastructure, the state will invest $130 million over three years to expand Interstate 17 and $95.3 million will go to priority infrastructure projects.