Tuesday, April 26, 2016

What can Ducey do to ensure passage of 123? (Besides throw money at it.)

Here's the answer in The Republic/azcentral.com.

Reasons for voting no

The list of reasons people cite in opposing Prop. 123 is long and varied. And even among the initiative's supports, there's a sense that fear is driving many of them: If they don't vote yes, worse can happen. (The iconic National Lampoon cover with the headline, "If You Don't Buy This Magazine, We'll Kill This Dog," comes to mind.)

The biggest of the reasons is distrust — distrust of the Legislature and of Gov. Doug Ducey.

The foes — I suspect largely Democrats, but not all — point out it was state lawmakers who ignored the will of the people on the funding-mechanism of Prop. 301, which led to a lawsuit, which led to the brokered agreement that is Prop. 123.

Which, continuing their logic, would take money from a source (Arizona's Permanent Land Endowment Trust Fund) that's already dedicated to public education and make up less than 80 cents to the dollar in inflation adjustments that schools lost. And which would allow the governor and legislators to wash their hands of the public-education obligation and resume business as usual.

Check out the accompanying post on the proposed budget for some justification of those fears - what Dicey giveth the lege taketh away.

What Ducey should say if he really wants 123 to pass

It is a narrative that Ducey shouldn't simply dismiss. He has said Prop. 123 is a first step. He needs to say more. Now.

Here's what the governor can say or do between now and the May 17 election to help secure Prop. 123's passage and to demonstrate his commitment to schools:

BTW: forget the "say" - it's the "do" that counts.

One: There's other immediate relief to schools coming. The state has an estimated billion dollar surplus after this legislative session, so "Ducey can commit a portion of that to help meet the sorest of Arizona schools' needs." But to do so would reduce his chances of enacting more tax cuts. (Yes, I am one of those who smells mendacity on this one.)

Two: There will be no tax cuts this year, period. Opponents of 123 fear that taking more money from the land trust is a fiscal cover for enacting even more business tax cuts. "We're at a climate now where a majority of Arizonans don't favor more tax cuts, including some in the business community. It is time to invest." Sure it is but follow the money. See what is done in the budget proposed this morning.

Three: We'll suspend efforts to expand vouchers —for now. "Of the many reasons for distrust among opponents of Prop. 123, the push to expand Empowerment Scholarship Accounts is the one I've heard brought up most often. Whatever the motivation or intention, ESAs serve to further a "separate but equal" education doctrine that favors families with money and resources." Eventually the increase in the voucher program will happen. "Empowerment Scholarship Accounts may work in limited circumstances — it would help for Ducey to spell out where those circumstances start and end." Sorry, Bub. There is no end.

Four: I will help identify the money source on state education funding. "Education is the No. 1 priority of Arizona voters, polling has shown. That alone should give lawmakers incentive — and political cover — for finding a way to increase funding." But, come on. When has the lege ever listened to voters. Remember 301?

And finally there is this. "Could Ducey be the education governor?" Ha ha ha ha ha ha ....

Check out the proposed budget to understand what four things that Dicey could do - but probably won't.

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