Saturday, January 2, 2016

What spending priorities say about Arizona

Here's one to unsettle your mettle - from the Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required). Arizona will spend less on education and more on prisons.

Education in general will experience spending cuts in fiscal years 2016 and 2017, whether it was universities taking a $99 million hit, Joint Technical Education District students getting funded only at 92.5 percent, or K-12 grappling with cuts of $352 million for district assistance.

The Legislature authorized the Department of Corrections in fiscal year 2016 to award a contract for 1,000 medium security beds to house male prisoners. An additional 1,000 beds will require further approval of lawmakers. The estimated annual cost for the initial 1,000 beds, which are set to be in use on July 1, 2016, is $24.2 million.

You don't suppose that there might be a relationship here?

Over the past 10 years, spending for prisons has increased by 45.5 percent while money for public schools has risen by only 9.4 percent.

The old psychological adage applies: the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Don't expect good things to be in store for our schools.

Note: Proposition 123 (1, 2, 3, Tax Breaks for Me) does not negate the prediction of more financial stress for public education; it just takes money from future education to fund present education without any hope of recharging the future pot of money.

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