Gov. Doug Ducey slammed a "left-wing" study Wednesday that ranks Arizona last in the nation in recovering from a decade of chopping education budgets.
"That's a false report," he told reporters after a groundbreaking ceremony for a new Great Hearts charter school in Maryvale.
"Those numbers are inaccurate and we'll get you all the facts ... Our per-pupil spending is up 10 percent since 2015."
The Republican governor wants credit for the cash he's spent on schools. Should he get that credit?
First, about the new study. It's titled "A Punishing Decade for School Funding." It was produced by the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which labels itself as "progressive."
The report's big finding: Arizona's 37 percent cut to per-pupil spending, when adjusted for inflation, was the deepest in the country from the Great Recession year 2007 through 2015.
I checked that number with the Legislature's independent research arm, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. It shows per-pupil funding was chopped by 25 percent during that period.
The discrepancy might have to do with differences in data selection. A spokesman for the D.C.-based think tank didn't respond before deadline.
The governor is focusing on the years since he took office in 2015.
Per-pupil spending is indeed projected to increase 10 percent -- by $375 per student -- from 2015 through the current school year.
But there is a caveat: Arizona voters approved most of that new money last year in the Ducey-backed Prop 123. The ballot proposition restores some of the money that the courts ruled were illegally withheld from schools during the recession years.
Voters would have to pass a second Prop 123 to make up for all the cuts over the last decade.
© 2017 KPNX-TV