Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Dicey Duce wants to fix Arizona's image. He should be worried about Arizona's reality.

Tim Steller, in his column in the Daily Star (, asks "Does Arizona have an image problem? Or does it have a reality problem?" Here is what prompts the question.

... the Arizona Commerce Authority has hired Scottsdale marketing firm Heasley & Partners to conduct research and come up with rebranding ideas for the state.

But the effort, spearheaded by Gov. Doug Ducey, becomes complicated when you consider the real problem this effort is trying to solve.

The real problem is reality, not image.

... there seems to be a real battle about what our reality is. Back in January, at the outset of the legislative session, state Senate President Andy Biggs, a Republican from Gilbert, blasted legislative Democrats for criticizing the state’s spending on education.

"If you want to consistently say to business, ‘Hey, you know what? We have a crappy education system,’ you’re not helping the state, you’re not helping our education system, and you are hindering our economy," Biggs told a group of business executives at a pre-session forum.

But Biggs was wrong in asserting that criticism created our image problem. It was his Legislature that steadily cut funding for education and facilities — in other words, it was a reality that they created, aided by the recession.

Just how wrong Biggs was became clear in June, when the U.S. Census Bureau released a report on education funding that showed Arizona near the bottom in various measures of per-pupil spending on education, using 2013 data. Yes, the Legislature bumped up funding slightly this year, but it’s still pathetically low, even compared to our own past per-pupil funding.

So while Biggs complained about the perception, he has been wasting his opportunity to do something about the reality.

I guess Biggs believes that cuts that impoverish education will lead to a good economy. But he is likely to get bad education and a bad economy.

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