Saturday, March 26, 2016

More back-and-forth on Prop 123

Before I get into the target commentary, let me put in a word for an upcoming DCSRA program on April 9th at 3:00PM in the upstairs room (#248) in the Continental Shopping Plaza in Green Valley. The focus of the forum is on public education funding and the pros and cons of Prop 123. The proposition is the subject of a special election on May 17th. The forum will be moderated by Bill Maki and features panelists David Safier, Dr. Scott Hagerman, Morgan Abraham, and Senator Steve Farley.

The Arizona Capital Times (subscription required) featured an opinion piece on Prop 123 from Diane Post, a piece that occasioned a couple of comments.

While many good-hearted people have encouraged supporting Prop. 123 because they claim it is a good start and injects badly needed money immediately into the classroom, unfortunately, they are wrong. First, there will be a lawsuit regarding whether or not the enabling act requires Congressional approval to implement the Proposition. During the lawsuit, which could take several years, no monies will be sent to classrooms.

Even if the Legislature paid everything ordered and agreed to, it will not change Arizona’s ranking on education. It will not fix the education problem in Arizona, and it will not provide sustainable funding for our schools. For 20 years our pupil-teacher ratio has steadily worsened and is now 40% greater than the national average. In 1992, Arizona funded our students at 80% of the national average for state-sourced funding; today it is 55%, the worse in the country. Our state-sourced funding per teacher has dropped from 70% to 40% of the national average.

[snip]

... the proposition includes in it a permanent change to the Constitution to reduce voters’ power. The Voter Protection Act says a referendum passed by the voters cannot be repealed and can only be amended if the amendment furthers the purpose of the law and has 75% of the legislators’ approval. The intent of the Legislature is nakedly visible with four bills introduced this session: HCR2023, HCR2024, HCR2043, HCR2047. These bills would make it easier to repeal voters’ intent and put several hurdles in the way of passing a voter initiative. By refusing to fund the mandatory 2% inflation increase (which was a voter passed initiative) and not funding the base level, the Legislature re-directed (stole) the money specifically earmarked for education by the voters and used it for tax breaks to corporations. They got caught and sued. Now they want to make sure that doesn’t happen again by changing the Constitution to reduce voter power.

It’s hard to say no to our struggling schools but in reality they won’t get money immediately anyhow. The money they eventually will get is minuscule compared to what is needed to bring Arizona up to par. The legislature has clearly signaled they have no intention of coming up with a plan for permanent, sustainable and sufficient funding for public schools and they want to decrease voter power to make sure we can’t force them. Vote no on Prop. 123 and let’s elect legislators who truly care about Arizona’s kids and Arizona’s future.

Here are two comments.

[From Exctyenger]: While Ms Post is undoubtably correct in her assessment, there is no alternative. If the citizens go back to the courts it too will be a long and expensive ordeal with no clear outcome. The Gov already has appointed Clint Bolick a Goldwater Institute lackey to the State Supreme Court and wants to increase the bench by three, you know what kind of folks he will appoint all this means is that our schools will lose in court. All I see is a lose – lose situation. I say take the money and run.

[From Brian Clymer]: I’m responding to “Exctyenger”. You won’t be able to “take the money and run” if Prop 123 passes because there will be litigation over whether Prop 123 violates the Enabling Act. Prop 123 is no quick fix; it simply creates more long term problems. Vote no on Prop 123.

So why am I granting space to the "no on 123" side of this debate? I've been up in Tucson for the last two days. On just about every street corner there is a sign urging a "yes" vote on 123. Those signs are paid for by the $4 million raised by the mostly big money folks. And that's just the beginning of the big money push. The "no" side of this has a paltry several hundred dollars, so the only way they can be heard is through the press.

Come to the April 9th forum and learn more about Prop 123 and the choice, Ducey's Choice, you will face on May 17th.

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