Arizona’s 10 community college districts received more than $31 million from cannabis-derived taxes collected last year, the Associated Press reports. The state’s legalization law created a 16% excise tax on sales, of which about one-third is earmarked for Arizona community colleges.
Colleges can use the funds for workforce development, STEM, and certain other education programs.
The funding is about equal to the size of Republican Gov. Doug Ducey’s plan to use $30 million in federal funds toward six new workforce accelerators throughout the state’s community colleges.
The state’s largest community college system, Maricopa Community Colleges, received more than $17 million from the cannabis tax fund last year. It told the AP it plans to use the funds for workforce programs and potentially uses $5 million to help cover workforce-related expenses or STEM due to budget shortfalls.
Pima Community College, the second-largest system, received $3.9 million and plans to use the funds for capital projects to expand and remodel health professions spaces and science labs, spokesperson Libby Howell told the AP.
Cochise College, which received over $2 million last year, is using the funds to significantly expand its first responders’ academy offerings, it told the AP.
Mandy Heil, the spokesperson for Arizona Western College which received $1.7 million, told the AP that the college plans to use the funds toward the $35 million in revenue bonds it was issued to update facilities, including for programs in e-gaming, cybersecurity, and allied health.
Yavapai College received $1.4 million and spokesperson Tyler Rumsey said the college plans to expand services at the college’s Regional Economic Development Center, which helps foster economic development, workforce growth, and regional collaboration programs.
Central Arizona College CFO Chris Wodka said the school would use its $1.3 million toward public safety program initiatives, such as improving the driving track and shooting range, police equipment, ammunition, and other supplies and that the college will spend the rest on STEM and workforce development programs.
Mohave Community College received $1.1 million which it plans to help fund the construction of an advanced manufacturing training center at the Kingman Airport Industrial Park and may also use the money to expand career and technical education and STEM programs based on northwestern Arizona workforce needs, spokesperson James Jarman told the AP.
Eastern Arizona College said it plans to use its $1 million from the cannabis sales tax money to help build a skills center for multiple workforce development programs for in-demand, local, careers, spokesperson Kris McBride said in the report.
Other colleges received less than $1 million, including Coconino Community College ($930,000), Northland Pioneer College ($900,000), and the Gila and Santa Cruz county provisional community college districts ($228,000 and $112,000, respectively), which indicated they would use the funds for work development programs.