The Fiscal Year 2023 budget is now law.
Gov. Doug Ducey signed the 17 budget bills for the next fiscal year on Tuesday. He did line-item veto one thing in the general appropriations act, a $3.64 million appropriation for “hyperbaric oxygen therapy for military veterans fund deposit.” Ducey says in his signing letter the item “has little support from the public and veteran community.”
Other than that, Ducey had good things to say about the bipartisan budget package lawmakers passed last week.
“Arizona’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget is a responsible package that pays down debt, secures our future and lays the foundation for even more growth – all while investing in the areas that matter most to Arizonans,” he wrote.
Ducey singled out numerous aspects of the budget for praise, including the more than $1 billion to pay off debt; $425 million for the rainy-day fund; continuing to implement the flat income tax that passed last year; getting rid of the State Equalization Tax Rate and backfilling the $330.5 million for schools from the general fund; raises for state troopers and corrections officers; and increased spending to take care of low-income pregnant women.
Ducey’s office sent out separate signing letters singling out for praise House Bills 2858 and 2866, the capital outlay and K-12 education budget bills especially. He praised the budget for providing “the largest investment in transportation infrastructure in state history” by including a $1 billion increase in spending for various projects.
“This includes a $875 million targeted investment for 44 specific transportation projects, $20 million for strategic investments in the state’s aviation infrastructure, and $51 million to maintain robust highway maintenance,” he wrote, plus $50 for the new State Match for Rural Transportation fund.
As for the K-12 education budget, Ducey said it would raise ongoing funding by about $704 per student. Ducey called on school districts to make sure the funding makes it into the classroom.
“The top priority should be to increase teacher pay, especially for entry level teachers so that Arizona can attract and retain high quality professionals dedicated to serving our students,” he wrote, adding that the bill includes language saying schools should use it to increase the total percentage of classroom spending.
“Arizona schools must ensure they allocate funds in this manner, and parents and the public should hold them accountable to this expectation,” he wrote.
The one item that was vetoed originated as a separate bill, Senate Bill 1041, proposed by Sen. Wendy Rogers, R-Flagstaff, which passed the Senate 26-2 in February. It then passed out of committee unanimously in the House but never got a floor vote.
Arizona Capitol Times reporter Camryn Sanchez contributed.