FACT CHECK: Did Kate Brophy-McGee Cut Billions from K-12?

The claims that Republican elected officials cut billions of dollars from K-12 education are all over digital advertisements and mail pieces across the state. One district in particular where the education funding debate runs rampant is Legislative District 28, with a tight race between incumbent Republican State Senator Kate Brophy McGee and Democratic challenger Christine Marsh. A recent mail piece funded by Great Schools Now, with majority funding from the Invest in Education Committee, makes the claim that Kate Brophy McGee cut $1.2 billion from K-12 education. We examined their claim.

Background

Kate Brophy McGee was elected to the Arizona House of Representatives in November of 2010 and was sworn in January of 2011. For our analysis, we focused on the years that Brophy McGee was actually in office (2011-2018) because prior year budgets have no rational connection to Brophy McGee’s voting record.  Therefore, the first budget that Brophy McGee would have voted on was the Fiscal Year 2012 budget. Fiscal years in Arizona state government run from July 1 until June 30.

For historical perspective, Joint Legislative Budget Committee baseline calculations projected revenue shortfalls during the recession that made it difficult for the Legislature to meet funding formulas across state government, which resulted in cuts to many public programs, including education. However, the deepest shortfalls were noted for the fiscal years prior to Brophy McGee’s time in office.[i]

In response, in 2010 the Legislature referred to the ballot for May special election a temporary sales tax increase championed by Governor Jan Brewer in order to help mitigate the cuts to education, health and human services and public safety. The passage of Proposition 100 raised nearly $3 billion over the three years it was in effect.

The Claim

The mail piece paid for by Great Schools Now alleges that Brophy McGee cut $1.2 billion from education. The mail piece does not offer any citations to back its claim or match publicly available budget data regarding recession-era cuts or new revenue since that time.

The Voting Record

According to a JLBC 10-year funding document, since fiscal year 2012, state funding for K-12 funding increased from prior years continuing until fiscal year 2019, the current fiscal year.

Since fiscal year 2012, total state K-12 education funding has increased $1,848,919,900, which is over $700 million more than was appropriated in fiscal year 2008 before the Great Recession. 

Brophy McGee in fact supported a number of measures that provided additional or on-going resources into the classroom. Here are a few key examples:

  • Sponsored the extension of Proposition 301, the six-tenths sales tax rate, for another 20 years beginning in 2021, and further prioritizes K-12 teachers by repurposing $64 million for increased teacher pay from funding previously dedicated to School Facilities Board (SFB) debt service payments set to be paid off in the near future.
  • Championed and supported $644.1 million for a 20 percent increase teacher pay increase when fully implemented. $304.9 million (10 percent) in FY 2018/FY 2019, $164.7 million (5 percent) in FY 2020, and $174.5 million (5 percent) in FY2021.
  • Supported $371 million to fully restore recession-era cuts phased-in over five years ($100 million in FY 2019, $168 million in FY 2020, $236 million in FY 2021, $303 million in FY 2022, $371 million in FY 2023).
  • In October 2015, the Legislature passed, and the governor signed an education funding plan to settle a five-year lawsuit by infusing an estimated $3.5 billion over 10 years into Arizona’s K-12 public education system. The plan increased funding to $3,600 per-pupil through a combination of State General Fund dollars and an increase in distributions from the Permanent State School Fund (State Land Trust). Proposition 123 increases the distribution of funds from the Permanent State School Fund from 2.5 percent to 6.9 percent to public schools for 10 years.

THE RULING:

Given the lack of citations on the mail piece or congruence with publicly available budget information for the last decade shared above, we have to assume that the claim is based on prior reductions in state funding before Brophy McGee was elected to the Legislature. The record shows that Kate Brophy McGee voted on budgets that have increased state funding for K-12 education in addition to other legislation that have increased financial resources for K-12 education and reversed many of the cuts the mailer falsely lays at her feet.

CBN finds this claim FALSE.

[i]  FY 2009 https://www.azleg.gov/jlbc/09summ/summbktoc.pdf

FY 2010 https://www.azleg.gov/jlbc/10summ/summbktoc.pdf

FY 2011 https://www.azleg.gov/jlbc/11summ/summbktoc.pdf

Lorna Romero

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