In 1980, Arizona established the Aggregate Expenditure Limit (AEL). This is an artificial cap on education spending that ignores changing student population and advances in education, particularly in technology. The Arizona Legislature has to raise the AEL to allow schools districts to spend the money the Legislature budgeted for them in 2021. (Yeah, it’s that dumb.) The AEL is archaic and should be eliminated. The short term fix is to raise the cap. The Arizona House voted to raise the cap this week. Now the issue is hanging in the Senate.
The Legislature should keep its promises to students, parents, teachers and school systems. The situation reminds me of the classic Peanuts cartoon where Lucy whisks the football away as the trusting Charlie Brown tries to kick it. Lucy is the Legislature, school funding is obviously a political football, and Charlie Brown is the trusting public hoping that we will do the right thing.
UPDATE: After much drama, the AEL was raised in 2022. The problem is that due to the way the budget was crafted, there is another AEL fight brewing as election season is heating up. As of Sept. 13, 2022, Legislative Democrats are calling for a special session to raise the AEL. The AEL is archaic and should be eliminated.