Monday, November 9, 2015

How to save AZ public education

A former educator makes suggestions on what we can do to stop the drive off the cliff.

If Arizona has any hope of building an economic future, it has to come from our ability to offer quality public education to students. Given that Arizona ranks last or nearly last in every measurement of public education, I would like to offer a few suggestions to turn this around.

At the top of his list is the restoration of the funding owed to public education. You know, the money the Guv and the Lege claim they don't have and don't owe.

Bombard all local, state and national representatives of our state to return the $1.2 billion it owes public education. Arizona voters passed Proposition 301 in 2000 to provide additional monies for educational programs. However, since 2009, state officials have failed to provide these monies to public education, and have instead used more than $1 billion of 301 funds to balance the state budget. Gov. Ducey’s latest proposal to use state land trust money to fund public education is a total sham because it uses money already designated to public education to pay back its debt to public education. The Legislature misappropriated 301 tax money for more than five years, and the money to repay the schools should logically come from the state’s income tax surplus. We the public must demand that our representatives correctly and honestly rectify the debt. Teachers, you know what other public servants like the police, firefighters and bus drivers would do in this situation.

If the voters of AZ approve the the "sham" on May 17, they will be robbing from the future to pay the present. Think of it this way. I have a chance to buy my dream home, but I lack the $100,000 down payment. My broker points out that I have $200,000 in my IRA. He withdraws $100,000 and writes me the check. I have my down payment. But I have cut my retirement fund in half.

If Ducey and the Lege use the surplus to fund any sort of tax cut, in effect it will be a transfer payment from education to the wealthiest among us.

Read the guest editorial in the Star for other ways to help education in AZ.

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