Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Ducey's Choice

You might think of the education "deal" championed by Gov. Dicey Ducey as a series of choices. During the special session, allies of K-12 - Democratic legislators and education groups - were offered Hobson's choice ("take it or leave it") by Ducey and his GOP cronies in the legislature. The deal must be approved by the Arizona voters in a special election on May 17th.

There is a more insidious choice offered to the voters during the special election. The electorate is being asked to choose among two ugly alternatives - a decision analogous to that in the book and movie Sophie's Choice. Sophie was a Polish immigrant (and concentration camp survivor) after World War II. As the story unfolds we learn that "upon arrival at Auschwitz, she was forced to choose which one of her two children would be gassed and which would proceed to the labor camp. To avoid having both children killed, she chose her son, Jan, to be sent to the children's camp, and her daughter, Eva, to be sent to her death."

On May 17th, Arizona voters will be asked to choose among two highly unpalatable alternatives - to approve a constitutional change in the amount of funds drawn from the state land trust or to reject the proposal (Prop. 123). If the proposal passes, there will be less money for K-12 from that source at the end of 10 years than would be the case if the present rate of disbursement remained in place. If the proposal does not pass, K-12 gets no additional money, at least for the immediate future.

In short, the choice offered the voters is to short education now or to short education in the future. Do we starve our kids today or do we starve them tomorrow?

You see? It's Sophie's Choice.

And it's Ducey's Choice.

P. S.

From an unrelated Associated Press story:

Ducey took office in January when it appeared the state could have a budget deficit approaching $1 billion, including money that courts had ordered the Legislature to pay to schools for failing to provide required yearly inflation boosts. But the school lawsuit was settled last month [Prop 123], without using much general fund cash, and tax revenue is running well above forecasts.

We did not have to suffer Ducey's Choice. Now we await what else he plans for that increased revenue.

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