$1 billion in new funding for Arizona's public schools? Pigs really can fly, it seems

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Pigs were doing loop-de-loops around the Capitol on June 23 as the Arizona Legisature passed a bipartisan budget that addresses some of the crying needs in this state.
Pigs were doing loop-de-loops around the Capitol on June 23 as the Arizona Legisature passed a bipartisan budget that addresses some of the crying needs in this state.

Ungainly looking winged pink creatures were spotted doing loop de loops around the state Capitol dome this morning as the Arizona Legislature passed a bipartisan budget.

You read that right. Bipartisan.

After years of ignoring Democrats, a group of Republicans joined with them to pass a nearly $18 billion budget that offers $1 billion in new money for K-12 education, including $800 million in new, ongoing funding for public schools.

It also includes $544 million for border security and 17 miles of fencing at the U.S.-Mexico border, $334 million to fund water projects and nearly $1 billion in road construction, including widening Interstate 10 north of Casa Grande.

In other words, something for everyone to like – or despise.

Conservatives said no, so they were bypassed

And despise it some of the Legislature’s uber conservatives did, blanching at a $5 billion boost in state spending. (Earlier, they had balked at a smaller budget, prompting Senate President Karen Fann and House Speaker Rusty Bowers to bypass them and work with Democrats to avert a state government shutdown next week.)

“It was the first time in its history that a Republican majority has passed a Democratic budget,” groused Rep. Jacqueline Parker, R-Mesa.

Oh the horror, agreeing to work across the aisle with legislators who represent millions of previously ignored Arizonans. The shame of using that eyepopping $5.27billion surplus to finally address some of the crying needs in this state.

Agreeing to put up some real money to support public education – a longstanding priority of Arizona voters – and to begin looking for ways to secure a future water supply in a time of sustained, intense drought.

And to fence some areas of the wide-open border that those same uber conservatives have been screaming about for years.

Fortunately, there were pragmatic Republicans

Paying down pension debt? Socking away $425 million for a rainy day? Offering pay raises to state employees, many of whom haven’t seen one in a decade? Eliminating the state equalization tax, a property tax that funds education?

Will the misery never cease?

“I believe this is the best Democratic, bloated, full of pork budget that our constituents’ money ever could have paid for,” Rep. John Fillmore, R-Apache Junction, grumbled.

Democrats sure didn't see it that way.

"Frankly, a majority of this budget does not align with the priorities of Democrats," Senate Minority Leader Rebecca Rios, D-Phoenix. "However, the opportunity to truly invest in our public education and secure a brighter future for Arizona students cannot be overlooked."

Fortunately, there were pragmatic Republicans willing to bypass the no-on-everything crowd and work through the night with Democrats to get a few things done for the state.

“Reaching bipartisan agreement on taking care of the needs of the people of Arizona shouldn’t be a rare or historic event, as this was,” House Speaker Rusty Bowers, R-Mesa, said. “My hope is that this (will) inspire and foster a renewal of the cooperative spirit that our great state was built upon.”

Pigs and more pigs, flying all over the place.

What a sight to behold.

Reach Roberts at laurie.roberts@arizonarepublic.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LaurieRoberts.

Support local journalism: Subscribe to azcentral.com today.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona Legislature OKs a bipartisan budget as pigs fly overhead