Campaign News

Op-Ed piece penned by Senator Biggs
Arizona Republic, October 11, 2014

Question from the Republic: What if the state pays the $336 million in inflation funding to public schools?

Arizona’s K-12 education system will receive funding of nearly $10.1 Billion dollars from all sources this year. Part of that funding includes inflation increases the voters approved in 2000. Prior to the recession the Legislature regularly overpaid the inflationary amount.

During the recession the entire state budget was reduced, but K-12 education maintained its proportional share of the budget. A portion of the inflation amount was paid. Several school districts sued.

A lower court has ordered the state to increase education funding by $317 million a year. That will result in a state budget deficit of more than $1.5 billion over the next two years. The state has offered to pay $80 million a year, the true amount of the inflationary payment when credit is given for the overpayments made by the state.

Critics say we should spend more on education (which we’ve been doing every year since 2011). Now budget planners must make reductions to balance the budget. Do we slash money from the newly-created Department of Child Safety? Or should we stop repairing state roads? Or perhaps make drastic cuts to higher education? It’s an unpleasant dilemma.

The budget-destroying impact on Arizona is part of the reason we’re appealing the lawsuit. This is about a windfall to schools in an improperly inflated amount inconsistent with the will of the voters. Should we ignore the years when the state overpaid? The true overall number is about $80 million, a more manageable amount when you’re trying to balance the budget.


The undersigned members of the Arizona Legislature oppose Proposition 480 for three basic reasons: cost, growth of government and uncertainty due to the many changes in the health-care delivery system.

Proposition 480 asks Maricopa County residents to approve a $935 million bond proposal ($1.6 billion with interest included) for Maricopa Integrated Health System (the County Hospital), the third largest bond/tax proposal in Arizona’s history. Property owners have been devastated by the Great Recession and have seen effective tax rates climb by as much as 30% from 2009-2014. We are taxed enough already.

It is unclear exactly what MIHS would do with such a large infusion of taxpayer money. MIHS currently provides only 5% of the Maricopa County healthcare marketplace. The CEO’s of the four largest hospital systems in the Valley have questioned the need for the bond, stating their belief that there is currently adequate capacity for hospital services.

With the passage of Medicaid expansion in 2013 in Arizona and the implementation of Obamacare across the country, massive changes are occurring in the health-care industry. And the costs are enormous. We believe government should not make any more changes until the recent changes have had a chance to be evaluated.

For these and other reasons, we urge Maricopa County voters to vote NO on Proposition 480. Remember early voting has already begun and Election Day is November 4th.

  • Sen. Andy Biggs-Senate President
  • Sen. Adam Driggs-Senate Majority Whip
  • Sen. Nancy Barto
  • Sen. Judy Burges
  • Sen. Kelli Ward
  • Sen. Steve Yarbrough
  • Sen. Steve Pierce
  • Sen. Gail Griffin
  • Sen. David Farnsworth
  • Sen. Don Shooter
  • Sen. Bob Worsley
  • Rep. John Kavanagh (candidate for state Senate)
  • Rep. Steve Smith (candidate for state Senate)
  • Rep. Debbie Lesko (candidate for state Senate)
  • Rep. Rick Gray
  • Rep. Justin Pierce
  • Rep. Paul Boyer
  • Rep. J.D. Mesnard
  • Rep. Eddie Farnsworth
  • Rep. Warren Petersen
  • Rep. Karen Fann
  • Rep. Steve Montenegro
  • Rep. Darin Mitchell
  • Rep. Phil Lovas
  • Rep. Sonny Borrelli
  • Rep. David Livingston

We urge Maricopa County Voters to vote NO on Prop 480.