Republican Arizona lawmaker threatens school funding ‘war’

/Screenshot 12 News

Author Joe Dana |12News

A veteran Republican state legislator is confirming the fears of some educators after he said legislators are prepared to retaliate against public schools if a petition drive is successful regarding school vouchers.

State Senator David Livingston of Peoria (R) said there “would be war” if an activist group, Save Our Schools, gathers enough signatures for a ballot measure to let voters decide the future of universal school vouchers, according to four people who were with Livingston Tuesday.

RELATED: Arizona charter schools offering 16% raises. Here’s why other schools can’t do the same

Livingston made the comments during a question-and-answer public forum in Avondale hosted by Westmarc, an alliance of West Valley cities. Attending the forum were business owners, school superintendents and mayors.

According to attendees who spoke to 12News, Livingston was asked about a looming spending cap facing school districts, called the aggregated expenditure limit (AEL). 

Even though the legislature approved historic new funding for schools in June, Republicans did not hold a vote to lift the spending cap that would have allowed school districts to spend all the money. The legislature would need to hold a special session this year or take up the issue during next year’s regular session to lift the cap.

Charter schools are exempt from the spending cap.

Livingston said if Save Our Schools collects enough signatures by September to refer a separate voucher law to the 2024 ballot, “there would be war” between Republican legislators and public school advocates. 

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