Parents, students and teachers rally against higher education cuts

Arizona's $9.1 billion budget deal has reached a snag.

In the meantime, several hundred people swarmed the State Capitol, protesting massive cuts to higher education while the appropriations committee hearings were underway Thursday.  At one point, one meeting was disrupted as protesters stormed into the chambers.

The message: students, parents, and teachers have had enough with the budget cuts. The current budget deal proposes an increase in K-12 spending, but slashes more than $100 million to universities.

Dozens of Arizona State University students marched through downtown Phoenix to the Capitol, where they joined nearly 1,000 protesters voicing their anger and frustration at the budget deal that Governor Doug Ducey and Republican lawmakers came up with.

"I think people have really rallied behind education in Arizona and want this Governor to realize we've waited long enough to get the funds that our kids need, and not just my kids, Arizona's kids," said Joan Larose.

The $9.1 billion spending plan is currently being debated. While it increases spending on K-12 schools, the deal would cut a total of $104 million in state spending to universities.

"It really makes me sad.. I'm not going to lie.. I was close to tears," said Glendale High School student Andre Grajeda.

"We want to to have to stand up and look us in the eyes, and tell us, even though, their education was paid for and they have jobs to be community leaders, they are making the active decision to say no, we are not going to pay for your education," said ASU Student Body President Kassidy Possehl.

At one point, a group of students interrupted the committee hearing and got kicked out of the room.

"We were ready to really show that we're taking charge of our future and our education," said Grajeda.

The budget deal would also eliminate state funding for Maricopa, Pima, and Pinal County Community Colleges.

Democrats generally oppose the proposal.

Meanwhile, majority Republican leaders are still trying to persuade enough of their members to support the plan. The goal was to finish the budget this week, but they were several votes short.
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