What you need to know about Arizona's Aggregate Expenditure Limit (AEL) and why it is putting our students at risk.
To Supporters of TVUSD,
We have an urgent issue and seek your assistance. District schools across Arizona would have to cut $1.2 billion beginning in April 2022 if a resolution is not passed before March 1. The Tanque Verde Unified School District will lose $2.6 million in current year funding if the Arizona Legislature does not pass a resolution allowing school districts to exceed the aggregate expenditure limit.
These are funds that have already been allocated, not new money, hence the urgency of this message.
Arizona is in the best economic position it has been in in over a decade. This has allowed the state to prioritize education and fully restore and even exceed the recessionary cuts. However, if the AEL is not addressed schools will not be able to spend these dollars. This will result in the largest cut to education in any single year. The cut would be over 16% of each district’s individual budget.
You can help by contacting your local legislators and asking them to pass a resolution to allow school districts to spend the amount they have been funded. See your legislative district and representatives on this page.
FAQs about Arizona's Aggregate Expenditure Limit (AEL)
What is the AEL?
In 1980, Arizona voters passed a measure that limits how much K-12 schools can spend in a school year. This was done when the state implemented its school funding formula. It is known as the aggregate expenditure limit (AEL), which is the total amount that all K-12 schools are spending each year.
Why aren’t charter schools included in the AEL?
Charter schools aren’t included in the spending limit because they didn’t exist in 1980. However, their lack of inclusion has never been tested in the courts.
Why have we hit the AEL?
Proposition 301, the voter approved sales tax initiative that provided funds to our schools was originally exempt from the AEL. But when the legislature reapproved these funds, they did not go back to the voters to renew the exemption from the AEL, and so these once excluded funds are now included, roughly $600M.
The decrease in student enrollment last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic caused a lower spending limit this year even though most of those students showed back up in the classroom for the 21/22 school year.
The legislature has restored and surpassed the Great Recession cuts to district schools, which means we are spending more than ever educating our children. (Of course, this only remains true if we override the AEL)
What happens if funding goes above the AEL?
The Arizona State Legislature can allow schools to exceed the AEL and spend the dollars that were appropriated to them through the state general fund by a 2/3 vote. Exceeding the AEL is not new money.
What’s at risk?
If the legislature doesn’t act, then district schools will need to cut $1.2B from their budget in the last three months of the school year even though the state has already appropriated the money.
Why should lawmakers override the AEL?
Arizona is in the best economic position it has been in in over a decade. This has allowed the State to prioritize education and fully restore and even exceed the recessionary cuts. However, if the AEL is not addressed schools will not be able to spend these dollars. This will result in the largest cut to education in any single year. The cut would be over 16% of each district’s individual budgets.
How can I help?
Contact your state legislators. You can find your legislator here.