School funding, education expected to be major topics in new state legislative session

PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- Several groups who want to influence legislator's agendas were at the State Capitol in Downtown Phoenix to welcome lawmakers back, and education is certainly at the top of many people's lists.

There were some shouting and protesting going on at the Capitol Mall on Monday, as lawmakers start their regular session, and while the start of the session had a rather regal and upbeat tone, many say the state will face many challenges this year.

"The first day is deceptive," said Central Arizona Project board member Terry Goddard. "This is a time of good humor, a lot of smiles, great cookies, and based on that, people are getting along. I hope that continues."

From the State house floor, one of the issues facing lawmakers session was clearly seen on the house floor, as RedforED supporters made their presence known in the gallery.

"I see another huge push for people to fight for public schools. It was incredibly powerful last year," said Marisol Garcia, Vice President of the Arizona Education Association.

What concerns many is will the state see another teacher walk out over school funding, similar to one that happened in 2018.

"We don't know what other options are going to be," said Garcia. "Nothing is off the table, because we are fighting for our kids. This is not for us. Our schools have not been funded."

Purple was another color spotted in the legislature on opening day. Supporters of the "Purple for Parents" movement say they want to keep politics out of the classroom, including discussions of RedforED.

"Big RedforED issue in the spring. Everyone was paying attention to the teachers and the legislatures. Nobody was talking to the parents," said Forest Moriarity, founder of Purple for Parents. "We had a lot of issues we wanted resolved, especially with regards to strikes or walkouts."

It was apparent on opening day that this session will be colorful.