Governor, Legislature make historic investments in education, border security, infrastructure

PHOENIX — Governor Doug Ducey today signed the Fiscal Year 2023 budget, 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.

“This landmark, bipartisan budget makes historic investments to secure Arizona’s future,” said Governor Ducey. “We’re making fiscally-responsible decisions and targeted commitments that will leave a legacy long after this administration. With dollars to secure our border, record-investments in K-12 education, and significant infrastructure funding to pave the roads of tomorrow ⁠— this budget truly delivers for Arizonans. And it does so, while providing tax relief to our citizens, paying off debt, and topping off the state’s Rainy Day Fund. I’m grateful to all of the state lawmakers who put in the work to deliver a budget for all Arizonans. Many thanks to the legislative leaders and appropriations chairs for their unwavering leadership and support.”

This year’s budget makes major improvements to Arizona’s K-12 education system, including the most significant yearly increase in the last eight years. With an additional $1 billion in year-over-year spending, total K-12 spending for this year is $8.45 billion. As per pupil funding surges, Governor Ducey said in a signing letter, “the classroom is exactly where this new funding should be directed by each school’s governing board.”

Arizona’s budget continues Governor Ducey’s track record of taking action and supporting efforts to secure the border. With a $544 million investment in the Border Security Fund, Governor Ducey is delivering on a promise from his January State of the State that if Washington, D.C. will not do its part to secure our border, Arizona will. 

The budget also delivers on other issues that matter most to Arizonans. Through historic investments, the plan enhances public safety and state trooper pay, expands a vital portion of I-10, catalyzes the modernization of the State Parks system, pays down debt, saves for the future, and helps Arizona families keep more of their hard-earned money.

To sustain a growing Arizona, the budget includes the largest investment in state history in strategic transportation initiatives. Governor Ducey wrote in a signing letter that these investments will sustain Arizona’s incredible economic growth. 

To ensure every dollar spent is useful to Arizonans, the governor also line-item vetoed the following appropriation of the budget: House Bill 2862, page 85, lines 33 and 34. In a letter, the governor said, “This appropriation however has little support from the public and veteran community.”

Highlights of the fiscally responsible budget include:

K-12 and Higher Education

  • $330.5 million to completely eliminate the State Equalization Tax Rate (SETR), a statewide tax currently applied to personal property to fund K-12 education, and backfilling lost property tax revenue to K-12 with General Fund support

  • $329 million to raise the base support level education spending, representing the single largest dollar and percentage increase in per pupil funding in 20 years

  • $183.3 million to maintain school facilities through Building Renewal Grants, the single largest investment in building renewal in the history of the program

  • $126 million to continue support of the Arizona public universities’ New Economy initiatives

  • $100 million in special education funding for Arizona public schools

  • $50 million in ongoing funding for school safety, supporting school resource officer salaries

  • $20 million for the school safety interoperability program, which provides funding to county sheriffs for real-time communication solutions between schools and public safety agencies in the event of an emergency

  • $16.6 million in adult education programs that offer continuing high school and workforce training programs

  • $12.5 million to expand the “Promise Scholarship” program at Arizona universities

  • $10.8 million to restore STEM education funding levels for Pima and Maricopa Community Colleges

  • $10 million to waive higher education tuition costs for veterans’ spouses 

  • $10 million to assist in the construction and operation of the East Valley Institute of Technology’s foster care youth transitional housing program

  • $7 million in rural community college funding 


Public Safety

  • $564.2 million deposit in the Border Security Fund for enhanced patrolling, physical barriers, detention and prosecution.

    • $53.4 million is allocated for Arizona’s County Sheriffs to recruit and retain vital law enforcement staff

    • $30 million for local prosecution and imprisonment of individuals charged with drug trafficking, human smuggling, illegal immigration and other border-related crimes.

    • $20 million is in ongoing funding for Border Strike Task Force support

  • $132.8 million to replace evaporative cooling with Air Conditioned Units in all state prison facilities over 4 years

  • $117 million to provide a 20 percent pay increase for all Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry salaries

  • $50.9 million to address the Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry  infrastructure needs across the state that will enhance staff and inmate safety

  • $25 million for a 15 percent salary increase for Department of Public Safety law enforcement professionals

  • $10 million to launch a statewide cybersecurity readiness grant program and provide cybersecurity tools to local governments and school districts 

  • $5 million in 20 percent pay raises for Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections officers.

  • $10 million to establish the Major Incident Division at the Department of Public Safety that can investigate critical force incidents

  • $6.3 million to establish a First Responder’s Academy in Cochise County

  • $3.8 million to automate crime victim notifications allowing for better coordination and communication between law enforcement and crime victims


Health & Wellness

  • $94 million to address the healthcare workforce shortage

    • $50 million in competitive grant funding for community colleges and universities that seek to expand their nursing programs

    • $27 million for more clinical rotations needed to complete nurse training

    • $15 million for a nurse education investment partnership between hospitals and nurse education programs to expand more classroom seats for the profession

    • $2 million for a new behavioral health student loan repayment program

  • $80.9 million for rate increases for providers serving individuals with developmental disabilities or who are elderly and physically disabled. When combined with the federal match, the total investment is $281.2 million

  • $72.7 million for various housing strategies aimed at reducing homelessness

    • $60 million deposit into the Housing Trust Fund

    • $10 million for a homeless services grant pilot program

    • $2.4 million for homeless veterans housing at Fort Whipple

  • $25 million to build five new secure behavioral health residential facilities

  • $11.2 million to add 95 more staff to the Adult Protective Services for better coverage on referrals of abuse or neglect of the elderly or vulnerable adults

  • $16 million for expanded covered services in the AHCCCS system

    • $10 million to enhance access to pregnancy care services by reaching parity with private-pay providers

    • $2.7 million to offer coverage for women who are less than one year postpartum and do not exceed 150 percent of the federal poverty line

  • $10 million expand the Healthy Families program by 25 percent or roughly 1,500 families

  • $4.8 million to increase the foster care daily stipend, directly supporting children, the first increase since 2009

  • $3 million investment in area agencies on aging services that help maintain the independence of Arizona seniors by providing them home-based services such as meal delivery


Natural Resources

  • $176.7 million in federal and state resources, largest investment in state history, to spur rural tourism through 33 State Parks System projects, which include upgrading campsites, renovating historic structures, improving the physical and digital access of the park system and more

  • $65 million in fire suppression efforts, building upon programs passed in last year’s special session on fire

  • $41 million to protect Arizona’s land through the Arizona Healthy Forest Initiative, of which $2.2 million will help advance the Good Neighbor Authority initiative, allowing the state to partner with federal agencies on forest thinning and other restoration projects in and around communities at risk for devastating forest fires 

  • $10 million for eastern Arizona water project assistance grants

  • $5 million to remove Salt Cedar trees that threaten Arizona rivers and waterways

  • $3 million over two years to develop rules surrounding Direct Potable Reuse which will pave the way for additional water reuse throughout the state




Government That Works

  • $1.15 billion in pension debt payoff marking the first time that all Public Safety Personnel Retirement System pension plans have been fully funded since 2004 and saving the state $100 million per year

  • $425 million to bring the Rainy Day Fund to its largest ever amount: $1.4 billion

  • $93.5 million in state debt payoff on state buildings, saving $18.9 million a year

  • $73.5 million in federal funds to replace the State’s legacy Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund IT system, which will improve efficiency and reduce fraud

  • $49.1 million for an across-the-board pay increase for state employees

  • $15 million to continue development of the Business One-Stop project, which will offer individuals and business one portal to interact with multiple agencies necessary to start and maintain a business