Goveror Ducey did an about-face on decimating our state's JTED funding. Our caucus and some reasonable Republicans got together and forced his hand. We are proud of our victory but stand to be prouder of all the young men and women who will learn skills that the Governor tried to take away.
Ducey says he's now OK with JTED funding plan
PHOENIX — State senators are poised to give final approval Thursday, Feb. 11, to restoring funds for Joint Technical Education Districts after Gov. Doug Duceyfinally gave the plan his blessing.
The go-ahead comes after Senate President Andy Biggswas forced to postpone a scheduled vote Wednesday after he got questions from Ducey about not just the $28 million cost of this measure, but how it fits into the entire $9.5 billion spending plan for the coming year.
Biggs, who met with the governor late Wednesday, said Ducey now is comfortable that the Legislature is not on a spending spree, even though the JTED bill has a price tag nearly three times larger than the governor first proposed. Biggs said Ducey is now prepared to sign the legislation when it reaches his desk.
“If you can infer anything from our conversation it’s that he wants to make sure that we’re all continuing to focus on getting a budget out that’s structurally balanced, and in a timely fashion,” Biggs said.
Ducey said he values career and technical education. “I’m also concerned about a balanced budget,” he said. He said the budget has to be seen as “a total package” and not simply disparate pieces.
Gubernatorial press aide Daniel Scarpinato said there was never any threat by his boss to veto the measure.
The legislation already approved by the House would restore most of the $30 million in cuts to JTEDs that had been set to take effect this coming school year.
In January, however, Ducey had offered up $10 million, and only for three years. He also attached strings, including a requirement for businesses that would be hiring the program’s graduates to provide a dollar-for-dollar match, whether in cash or equipment.
That proposal did not go over well. Sen. Don Shooter, R-Yuma, managed to line up more than 70 of the 90 legislators from both chambers to support restoring the entire $30 million. That margin would be more than enough to override any gubernatorial veto if it came to that.
In the end, Shooter and other legislators involved in negotiations agreed to a $28 million package.
The savings is coming from removing a provision from existing law that allows adult students to come back, without cost, to get new training after they have graduated. That option will remain open, but only if the students pay tuition.
After meeting with the governor, Biggs said too much was being made of the delay.
But Assistant Minority Leader Steve Farley, who said he spoke with Biggs ahead of the meeting with Ducey, said, “He told me specifically that the governor had called and had demanded that Biggs accede to a number of his budget demands. And Biggs said those demands were extortionate.”
Biggs insisted that conversation never took place.
The Senate president also insisted that the Republican majority should get credit for restoring the funds even though it was a GOP budget last year that first cut the dollars.