Originally Published: May 2, 2016 6 a.m.
We encourage all Yavapai County residents to vote “YES” on Proposition 123. Passing Prop 123 is an absolute necessity if we are to help our ailing public school system.
This proposition settles a five-year lawsuit filed against the state that had the potential for devastating and far-reaching adverse consequences for our schools and the state. The proposition will bring our schools back to a proper funding level after the severe economic blow the state experienced during the worst recession of our generation.
Proposition 123 brings hundreds of millions of dollars to our schools each year, including millions for our local school districts. That’s money that can be spent to hire – and actually keep – talented teachers, buy new textbooks and amenities like high-speed internet connection and new computers.
Arizona’s public school system is in the midst of a teacher retention crisis. Our teachers are leaving the Prescott area and the state at alarming rates for the simple reason they aren’t being paid competitive salaries, or even salaries that can provide a decent living for their own families.
Prop 123 will deliver $3.5 billion for our public school system over the next 10 years – and without raising taxes or cutting funding for other state priorities. The trade-off for this resolution is that our education community accepted the Legislature’s negotiated request for so-called “triggers” that seek to protect the state’s land trust, and, most importantly, its ability to pay for other vital services like public safety and health care in the event of an economic disaster.
The recent letter to the editor against Prop 123 provides no real solution, just “potential flaws.” The writer claims incorrectly that the state simply has the $1.3 billion lying around and should pay to settle the lawsuit. Is the writer really better informed than the parties, analysts and lawyers who resolved the matter after years of litigation? If the state could simply pay $1.3 billion, other vital state services would be cut and taxes would need to be raised. Not a viable course of action as the state still is clawing out of a recession.
Our children, state and public education system deserve and need the money NOW that Prop 123 will provide.
You have a choice to help local school districts when you receive your early ballots or when we visit the polls on May 17. We are proud to vote “YES” for our teachers, schools and students, and urge all Courier readers to do the same.
Alex and Maureen Vakula