Open Letter to Governor Ducey

It was fitting that your propaganda piece, “Arizona schools win big in my budget” was published in AZCentral.com’s “AZ I See It” column. After all, I understand this is your view of reality. But, the fact that it is your view, doesn’t make it factual.

You open your piece speaking of last year: “we protected priorities, like K-12 education…” Not sure how you can claim you protected K-12 education when in 2015, you cut $113.5 million from K-12 district schools and reduced charter additional assistance funding by $10.3 million. This year, you claim credit for “an historic $3.5 billion funding package for schools.” Yeah Governor, you are just a regular education philanthropist, digging deep into the schools own coffers (state trust lands revenues set aside for education funding) to give our schools the money they’ve been owed since 2009. You offered this deal to take additional monies from state trust lands, despite Arizona ending last fiscal year with an extra $312 million in the bank and being on-track to end FY2017 with $621 million. To add insult to injury, you now plan to pad the states’ rainy day fund with an additional $10 million to bring the balance to $470 million. I have to wonder how many corporate tax breaks will that fund?

 Despite your largely unearned grandstanding, I’m going to hold my nose and vote for Prop. 123, because I think it is the only way we will get any significant additional funding for our schools anytime soon. Rest assured though that education advocates throughout the state are going into this eyes wide open. We know there are caps and triggers in the deal that could allow the legislature to cheat our kids yet again. Just know that we will be more vigilant than ever and that “Hell hath no fury” like advocates scorned after negotiating in good faith.

Of course, taking credit for new funding when you are really just restoring it seems to be a trend for you. You claim to be targeting high-need employment sectors with a “new”, $30 million investment in career and technical education (CTE.) Give me a break! This is the same $30 million the Legislature cut from CTE in 2015. It is definitely not a “new” investment and you aren’t even proposing to give it all back at once. Rather, you: plan to give only $10 million per year over three years; only want it spent on certain kinds of programs; and are requiring matching funds from business. House Minority Leader Eric Meyer said “two thirds of the JTEDS across the state will disappear under this plan, it will create havoc.” He went on to question “why we are ‘fixing’ this program that already works so well to train our kids for the workforce.” These programs are proven to produce higher graduation rates, provide job skills for those not necessarily destined for college, and provide employers the skilled workers they so badly need. The reduced funding won’t only hurt JTEDs, but also district schools who get funding for their students participating in the job training programs.

Speaking of reduced funding in district schools, I noticed you didn’t mention that FY2017 will see the implementation of last year’s legislation to change the district funding model to “current year funding” versus the “prior year funding they’ve been using for the past 30 plus years. Essentially, this will immediately cheat our district schools out of one year’s worth of funding totaling $40 million across 64% of Arizona’s districts. And, while you claim this year’s budget proposal makes new investments in our universities, you failed to mention that your “plus-up” is really only $8 million, less than 10% of the $99 million cut in the 2015 budget. As for our community colleges, I note you also didn’t mention restoring any of the state funding you entirely eliminated from Maricopa and Pima colleges in 2015.

I do thank you for inviting all Arizonans to read your budget and join the conversation about it. You do, after all, work for us and we absolutely should give you feedback on the job you are doing. You can bet I’ll visit azgovernor.gov/budget, read your budget in detail, and comment. I wholeheartedly encourage all my fellow Arizonans to do the same.

Respectfully, Linda Lyon

 

10 Responses to Open Letter to Governor Ducey

  1. Kenneth Jones

    Well written. You should send a 200-word (1,200 characters is how they describe their ‘limit’ now) version to The Arizona Republic. But I disagree with you on one point: I’m holding my nose and voting “NO!” on Prop. 123. The caps & funding triggers are EXACTLY what the legislative REPUBLICANS will use to make sure there is NO additional funding for our schools + Ducey’s appointment of CLINT BOLICK to the state Supreme Court is no coincidence either. Clint Bolick has been HOSTILE to public schools in AZ for DECADES.

    • Thanks for the read and your comments Kenneth. I understand why you and many others are against Prop 123 but if we don’t pass this deal, our districts won’t see any additional money in well,,,forever! One of the reasons education advocates settled is because they predicted Bolick (or a guy like him) would be appointed to the state Supreme Court and then there would be no more deals for public education. Time will tell whether state leaders have even a modicum of concern for the 93% of Arizona’s students who attend all public schools. I’ve gotta go with the (kinda) bird in hand because our kids can’t wait five more years for more funding for their schools!

  2. Concerned Citizen

    Linda Lyon, Thank you for your outstanding letter cutting through the spin and hypocrisy of the State of the State, not to mention the arrogant and mocking tone it was delivered in. You failed to mention the $130,000,000 for thousands of private prison corporation “beds” (Arizona does not need) and the growing the mass industrial prison complex. When incarceration is valued over education for it’s people – Arizona’s people are doomed. This is funding destruction, not constructive and productive objectives for the people and their families.

    • Thanks for the read and comments CC! I appreciate your highlighting the issue of the mass industrial prison complex. This really bothers me too, but I find that I need to stay focused on education so I don’t totally go off the deep end over all the craziness. Please stay tuned to BFA!

  3. Frances Perkins

    I am not sure that Ducey works for the vast majority of citizens in this State. Maybe he should identify who he works for. There is no school district, JTED district or State university student, official or employee who would think this budget is good for them. You would be hard pressed to find even business leaders who think this adddresses Arizona education issues. He is absolutely disingenuous. But like last year, he will dig for days trying to find one Trojan horse senator or one turncoat school board member who will say how brilliant this budget is. If both the majority and minority members of the legislature have any political courage whatsoever they should say this budget is DOA.

  4. Absolutely accurate. I am glad the author enumerates the smoke and mirrors in the education proposals at all levels.

  5. American Vendetta

    Nice work Linda. It would be nice to see this letter in print at AZ Rep.