Last month, Governor Ducey released his FY 2020 executive budget plan, providing more details around his policy priorities outlined in the State of the State address. Relying on a “fiscally responsible” approach” and “smart and targeted” spending, the $11.3 billion proposal emphasizes confidence in Arizona’s economy, but cautions against new spending during economic uncertainty.
Thanks to an estimated $1.1 billion cash surplus, the budget would save approximately half - a record-breaking $542 million - in the state’s rainy-day fund. The result would bring the rainy day fund balance up to $1 billion – the largest single deposit in Arizona history.
The budget proposes that the remaining $538 million cash surplus be spent on new initiatives – $320 million in one-time spending, and $218 million in ongoing investments. Not surprisingly, the governor remains committed to K-12 education with about half of the new spending invested in K-12 public education initiatives, including an additional $165 million to fund the next installment of the teacher pay increase that was enacted in last year’s budget; $9 million for School Resource Officers; $6 million for more school counselors; $10 million to boost Career and Technical Education courses; and $60 million for an expansion of the results-based funding formula, designed to reward high-performing schools.
The remaining amount would be spent on infrastructure projects, relief for counties and state employee pay increases for 45 percent of the workforce. In particular, the budget proposes new funding for pay raises for public safety personnel, including $35.5 million for pay raises for Department of Corrections employees, $3.2 million for pay increases at the Department of Juvenile Corrections and $21.5 million for the Department of Public Safety.
Consistent with Governor Ducey’s desire to secure Arizona’s financial future, his 2020 budget similarly invests in a number of technology projects aimed at stabilizing Arizona’s systems. Here are some highlights of Governor Ducey’s budget:
The governor’s proposal would designate $20.7 million to create a Statewide Cybersecurity Risk Management Program, which would partner with a cyber insurance vendor to improve cybersecurity practices and insure against financial loss from cyber attacks
$700,000 for a new cybersecurity control implemented across state government for user authentication.
$1.4 million in increased operating costs associated with relocating the State Data Center to a private facility.
$4.5 million special line item for funds that ADOA will collect from participating agencies to pay for annual Google licensing costs – a solution that will resolve agencies’ use of disparate email and calendar systems
$10.1 million for the Department of Child Safety to complete the replacement of the child welfare data system (total project cost of $86 million - $43 million state funds)
$3 million to the Department of Education for the first year of a multi-year project to replace the school finance system
$3 million to provide matching grant funding to offset the construction costs of expanding broadband services in rural Arizona
Now, it is up to the legislature to debate which projects will receive funding. They say that budget negotiations actually take longer when there is extra money to divvy up between competing projects because everyone wants a “win.” The surplus, coupled with the slim Republican majority in the state legislature may prove to do just that.