Originally Published: May 11, 2016 6 a.m.
Education cuts in Arizona over the last seven years have been a travesty. In Gov. Doug Ducey’s first year alone, he cut education more than any other state and Arizona is now at the very bottom of the heap when it comes to per-student funding. It’s no wonder our schools are falling apart and good teachers are leaving Arizona. The question is how do we fix this problem of constantly underfunding our children’s education and underpaying our teachers?
Proposition 123, restoring minimal/partial funding is the Governor’s answer to the problem. Even if it passes, Arizona is still at the bottom in public school funding. In addition, Prop 123 is not a permanent solution as it raids 6.9 percent annually from the state trust land education fund for 10 years with the caveat that it could change to 2.5 percent with certain triggers. Thus, there is no guarantee that the trust money can be paid in a timely manner, won’t be held up in court battles, or be reduced using the many loop holes in the settlement.
Finally, it will allow Ducey and the Legislature to set a precedent of breaking the law by refusing to obey the Arizona Supreme Court’s order to pay the money owed from state’s coffers.
The short-term answer is to vote no on Prop 123 on May 17 and hold the legislature accountable for what it owes to education. The Governor’s plan has always been to defund public education and Prop 123 helps him out of a bind. He can minimally fund public education with the trust land fund money, and then use the money owed our schools and teachers for tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy. The long-term answer is to vote for pro-public education candidates. Hint, they are not Republicans.