Arizona tech schools could face cuts in state budget

- For the first time in years, the State of Arizona has a large budget surplus.

Governor Doug Ducey is expected to release his budget proposal on Friday. Many programs that faced cuts in past years are hoping to have some of that funding restored.

Schools like the East Valley Institute of Technology and Western Maricopa Education Center are facing a $30 million budget cut unless the Governor and legislators change that.

Near the Glendale Airport high school students are learning aviation technology, many of them will go on to become mechanics.

"Most of the conversations we have with parents is, I wish they would have had this when I was in high school, I would have done this," said Diane McCarthy.

The Western Maricopa Education Center is one of 14 joint education districts across the state. They are publicly funded schools that train thousands of students every year in specific trades, like welding and automotive technology.

If the planned $30 million cut goes through the school may be out of business in 3 years. Thursday morning graduates lobbied lawmakers telling stories of their success.

"I was hired three days after I graduated, I put in my application, the next day I got a phone call, the day after that an interview and I got hired," said Tyler Flores.

"My first job I was able to buy a house within a couple of years. I have been extremely blessed. Thank God I had the opportunity to go through NAVIT, it would be devastating if they cut the funding to it," said Patrick Meza.

All three who spoke studied welding at the Northern Arizona Vocational Institute of Technology. Emerson Jackson graduated in May; he quickly got a job with a company that moved him to Chicago where they pay him more than most college graduates.

"I am a Native American, it really helps out my tribe out that way in Northern Arizona, this is all we have out there to get out of that poverty. It would be a huge loss," said Jackson.

Governor Ducey touched on increasing funding for these programs during his State of the State, but exactly how much will be detailed in his budget, and debated at the legislature.

"Every legislator with whom I have spoken, and who has come and seen our programs understands the value," said McCarthy.

Governor Ducey's office issued the following statement: "The Governor believes Career and Technical Education is vital to prepare students for life and to grow our economy.  That is why he is putting renewed focus on it in his budget."

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