On May 20, 2024, Superintendent Annette Reichman of the Arizona State School for the Deaf and Blind announced significant budget cuts. She oversees both the Phoenix Day School for the Deaf and the Arizona State School for the Deaf in Tucson. These cuts are part of a broader state effort to address a $1.2 billion budget shortfall.

Causes of the Budget Shortfall
Arizona’s financial woes stem from several issues. The 2.5% flat income tax has significantly reduced state revenues. This tax cut has led to a projected $1.4 billion deficit for the next fiscal year, hitting revenues from wealthy residents hard​ (KJZZ)​. Additionally, the state’s school voucher program has cost more than expected, adding further strain​ (KJZZ)​ (Cronkite News)​.
Governor Katie Hobbs has implemented several austerity measures. She ordered a hiring freeze for new state employees. She also directed department heads to develop plans to cut $1.2 billion from their budgets. This includes trimming 4% from the current year’s spending and planning for ongoing 2% cuts in the next fiscal year​ (The Daily Independent at YourValley.net)​. Hobbs’ budget proposal also includes cuts to already-budgeted projects such as road improvements and IT initiatives​ (The Daily Independent at YourValley.net)​.
The budget cuts will impact various state agencies. The Department of Transportation will see delays in non-critical capital projects. The Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESA) program faces a $244 million reduction by restricting eligibility and enrollment criteria​ (Cronkite News)​. Additionally, a one-time 1% cut will be imposed on executive and legislative operating funds​ (Cronkite News)​.
Arizona’s financial difficulties are worsened by the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and inflation. However, these are not the primary causes. Legislative budget analysts project an $835 million revenue shortfall for fiscal 2024. This underscores the need for urgent budget adjustments​ (The Daily Independent at YourValley.net)​​ (Cronkite News)​.

Impact on Education
Superintendent Reichman stressed the need to maintain essential services for Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind students despite the financial constraints. Both the Phoenix Day School for the Deaf and the Arizona State School for the Deaf in Tucson will face budget cuts​ (Arizona Department of Education)​.
Arizona’s budget crisis highlights the need for strategic financial management and prudent policy decisions. The state’s efforts to address the $1.2 billion shortfall will have wide-reaching impacts on its agencies and services. As Arizona navigates these financial challenges, the focus will be on effective measures to ensure fiscal stability while supporting essential public services.
For more detailed information, you can refer to articles from Inside Higher Ed, Cronkite News, Daily Independent, and the Arizona Center for Economic Progress.