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Resolution seeks to end cooking the books on education budgets

Posted by   /  December 27, 2019  /  No Comments

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By Jeremy Duda | Arizona Mirror

A GOP lawmaker wants voters to ban the state from using an accounting trick that has helped alleviate education budget cuts during fiscal downturns, but has left the state sitting on nearly a billion dollars in unpaid bills.

Rep. Warren Petersen, R-Gilbert, has sponsored House Concurrent Resolution 2008, which would amend the Arizona Constitution to prohibit the legislature from deferring a payment to a school district “that is scheduled by law to be made in one fiscal year to the next fiscal year.” The practice is known as a rollover.

If lawmakers approve Petersen’s proposal, it would go before voters in the November election.

The rollover is essentially an accounting trick. The state defers payments that are due to school districts in one fiscal year by a few days so that it technically comes out of the next year’s budget. Arizona has traditionally used rollovers during budget shortfalls and relied heavily on them during the 2009-10 fiscal crisis caused by the Great Recession.

As a result, Arizona is currently rolling over $930 million in K-12 education payments, according to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee.

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