Still waiting for Governor Ducey’s ‘next step’ after Prop. 123


George Will’s mini-me at the Arizona Republic, Robert Robb, is a polemicist and partisan hack GOP apologist, nothing more. He has spent years doing this for the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Goldwater Institute before joining the Arizona Republic. His Libertarian la-la land economic nonsense has been a great detriment to Arizonans.

education_appleIn a recent op-ed, Robb refers to public education advocates who want more education funding in the state budget as “whining crybabies,” putting words into Governor Ducey’s mouth (reflecting his own partisan views), and then pivots to a defense of Governor Ducey’s “no new taxes ever” pledge. Robb: The State of the State speech Ducey would like to give (but won’t):

The main reason the whining crybabies are on my case, however, is that I won’t agree to raise taxes, particularly for K-12 education.

You want to talk education? Let’s start with history. Recent state political history, to be specific.

In 2014, there was an election for governor. I won.

During the campaign, I opposed any net increase in taxes. In fact, I ran on a platform of a tax cut every year with a goal of getting the income tax as close to zero as possible.

I still believe in getting the income tax as close to zero as possible.

Yet another non sequitur from Robb that has nothing at all to do with sound fiscal policy or education policy. Robb’s only justificiation is pure partisan politics: “I won, suck it!

It’s a wonder that the “whining crybabies” on the editorial board of the Arizona Republic retain this polemicist and partisan hack GOP apologist on their staff, given that they support higher taxes for public education funding. The editors of The Republic could immensely improve and elevate the level of policy discourse in this state by firing Robert Robb and kicking his sorry ass to the curb. Our View: Public schools need some meat on their bones, governor:

The desire to improve Arizona’s public education system is unmistakable. It should not go unsatisfied.

What’s also unmistakable are ribs poking through the thin sweatshirt Arizona wraps around its schools.

Recession-era cuts left a too-lean system that did not get enough sustenance from last year’s voter-approved Proposition 123.

When Gov. Doug Ducey presents what he promises will be “an exciting education agenda” [snicker] at Monday’s State of the State speech, he needs to serve something to put meat on the bones.

He needs to reflect the strong statewide constituency for schools.

Still waiting for what’s next after Prop. 123

Polls show Arizonans want more spent on an underfunded system, business leaders are devoting energy to ideas for reforms, and advocacy groups are joining their voices in the call to move the state out of the basement of school funding.

Ducey told The Republic’s Alia Beard Rau he will “talk about how we fund schools going forward.”

Arizona needs a solid plan that recognizes the need for new funding for K-12 schools.

The state doesn’t need more stalling while another governor-appointed committee of experts studies the issue. Elected officials have had enough nap time.

In May 2015, Ducey created the Classrooms First Initiative Council to come up with ideas. In December, some 18 months later, the group of experts issued a final report without offering a funding plan. They said solutions need to come from elected officials.

In April 2016, Arizona voters approved the governor’s plan to settle a lawsuit over school funding largely using money from the state land trust. They were told Prop. 123 was just the beginning.

They are still waiting for the rest of the plan.

Step 1 for Ducey: Plan for Prop. 301’s end

A group of business and education leaders came together to take their own look. Greater Phoenix Leadership President and CEO Neil Giuliano says “we still have a crisis in education funding.”

Part of that crisis involves uncertainty over what happens when Prop. 301 expires in fiscal 2021. The loss would create an $800 million funding gap, according to the Grand Canyon Institute.

The 2000 initiative – pushed by Republican Gov. Jane Hull – dedicated a six-tenths of a cent sales tax to education. It needs to go before voters for reauthorization to assure continuity and to reassure schools that this funding will not disappear.

Ducey should start working to get that renewal on the ballot and approved with the same vigor he brought to the campaign for Prop. 123. This is not a tax increase. It’s an extension that would prevent schools from suffering a huge budget cut.

There are those who do suggest the Prop. 301 reauthorization presents an opportunity to raise new money for education. Pushing the statewide sales tax to a full cent would bring in an additional $400 million a year. Adding a cent would bring in a billion a year for schools.

Years of underfunding really do add up

Sound like a lot?

A Grand Canyon Institute analysis found that just restoring Arizona’s education system to fiscal 2007 levels by fiscal 2026 would take more than $2 billion in annual funding beyond what Prop. 123 provides.

A coalition of business and education leaders has been pushing to add all-day kindergarten as a grade, which would improve educational outcomes for children. Arizona cut funding for full-day kindergarten during the recession. Restoring it would cost about $250 million.

Arizona teachers are among the worst paid in the country. Raising their salaries by $10,000 would still leave many lagging the national average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The cost to the state would be $600 million.

The big numbers represent years of under funding. The longer the state waits to boost funding, the farther behind Arizona will fall.

Vast majority would pay more for schools

The governor is staunchly opposed to raising taxes, but he might want to listen to the people he was elected to represent. They are not allergic to the idea of paying more to help our schools.

A poll released by Stand for Children Arizona, a public-school advocacy group, found 77 percent supported spending more on K-12 schools. Sixty-five percent said they would support increasing the Prop. 301 sales tax to a full cent.

This echoes a poll in September by The Arizona Republic/Morrison/Cronkite News, which found 74 percent of registered voters said the state was spending too little on education.

As he makes his annual address to the state, Arizona’s governor needs to show that he hears the voices calling for better education funding.

Or will Governor Ducey take his cues from the polemicist and partisan hack GOP apologist Robert Robb, whose views are those of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the “Kocktopus” network?


  1. The hypocrisy is most glaring in the statement, “the income tax should be as close to zero as possible”, and the State constitution, Article XI, #6, the university and all other State educational institutions and instruction furnished SHALL BE A NEARLY FREE AS POSSIBLE. Tuition at over $5,000 per semester does seem to violate that provision. But with the one party dictatorship in this State, do as we say, not as we do.

  2. I won you lost is a very powerful argument. you can’t even get white women to vote for you in arizona. what meryl streep says is not important. the white working class vote is important in az mich. penn. wi. as older democratic woman clinton supporters found out the hard way on nov. 8. hollywood elitist liberals like meryl streep who supported hillary, though transgender bathrooms were more important then coal mining jobs in ohio penn. kent. and wv. WRONG! which one do you think is more important coal mining jobs or transgender bathroom ?

    • The Republicans must think transgendered bathroom issues are the most important issue since Pearl Harbor. How did anyone survive without the GOP interest in the subject?

      • I am confused, Frances. To my knowledge, the Republicans don’t really pay much attention to the subject of transgendered bathrooms (except in North Carolina) and when they do give the subject some attention, they oppose it. Your message suggests the opposite. Did I miss something?

        • When it comes to personal reproductive decisions to bathroom police monitoring, numerous repub state legislatures are in the job. And don’t forget their boss in Arizona, Cathi “Busybody” Herrod.

  3. It’s funny the hypocrisy herein. “Throwing money at public education does nothing”, while at the same time throwing unaccountable taxpayer money at the charter school industry and at private religious schools miraculously breeds brilliant results. I guess it all depends on who is benefitting.

    • “Throwing money at public education does nothing, while at the same time throwing unaccountable taxpayer money at the charter school industry and at private religious schools miraculously breeds brilliant results.”

      Perhaps not “brilliant” results, but, dollar-for-dollar, certainly better results.

      • Nonsense. No data shows that except cherry picked data with cherry picked students. Like when charters and privates “deselect” students or deselect “SPED” students.

        • I see it differently, Frances, and it will drive you crazy because I am so unfair.

          If Charter and Parochial Schools “cherry pick” the best students and then provides them a quality education, thus allowing them to escape the education provided by Public Schools, which is often corrupted and hampered by trying to educate the difficult students not accepted by the Charter and Parochial Schools, then more power to them.

          That is not to say I don’t support Public Schools. I think they are necessary and good for our society. I just believe that parents should have options available to them.

          • Yeah, how are we going to have a Master Race if all the superior children have to deal with lesser humans?

          • “Yeah, how are we going to have a Master Race if all the superior children have to deal with lesser humans?”

            Not Tom, have you ever actually gone to a Charter or Parochial School to see who is attending them? Your message implies you think the classes will be made up of rich white kids, but you could not be more wrong. The classes are about as diverse as you could ever hope for. My Grandchildren attend the Bassis School, and their classes are made up (in decending order) of: Indians from the Asian sub-continent, Asians, Fillinos, Whites, Hispanics, Blacks, and Others. The Basis School has VERY high standards and the students manage to meet them consistently. They graduate and go on to top notch Universities. I doubt they would be so well prepared for College if they stayed in Public Schools where the classes would be slowed down by problem students who require most of the teachers attention. If a student becomes a problem in Basis, the school removes them from the classes and they go elsewhere.

            That isn’t fair by any measure, but it IS better for the students who attend there and that quality education serves them well throughout the remainder of their lives. They do offer scholarships and reduced tuition to deserving students with lesser financial means and these students also thrive in that environment.

            There is no “Master Race” being bred, Not Tom, just quality students with the confidence and skill sets needed to succeed.

          • This is the Great Segregation of the 21st century. It is mostly segregated on color but that is a byproduct of wealth and caring (and able parents). You see, most of these schools do not provide transportation so that eliminates (mostly) the single parent households and the two parent working ones. Sure, there are goining to be the outliers, but those are the parent(s) who have instilled school as the end all. These schools offer the priveledged an opportunity to seperate theirs from the trouble makers/poor work ethic kids that will comprise more and more of the neighborhood public school.
            This movement will divide us for sure.

          • You are absolutely correct, eric. It is a major source of segregation. But should my children, out of some sense of social responsibility (for lack of a better term), send their children to a Public School knowing they will likely receive an inferior education? Is it right that parents should sacrifice some measure of their children’s opportunities so as to “play fair” and not provide their children with the best possible education they can because other parents can not (or will not) do so? For better or for worse, most parents are going to do the best they for their children, regardless of societal implications. That is just human nature. I wish it weren’t that way, and that all children could get the same great educational opportunities, but that is not possible.

          • My message implied no such thing, you’re projecting. My comment was pretty clearly mocking yours, which was very reminiscent of German rhetoric from the 30’s and 40’s in the last century.

            Your words are scary, dude. Also, they’re nonsense.

            Here’s a personal anecdote. Our government heard some beeps coming from space in the late 1950’s, because the Soviet’s had sent Sputnik into the sky, clearly to torment us.

            So in the USA they started putting all the brightest kids into separate classrooms.

            They wanted to make sure America would have scientists and engineers to beat them godless commies.

            I was one of those kids. That’s right, I was being trained from an early age to overthrow world governments! 🙂

            That program ended when the Viet Nam war sucked up all the funding, but for two years in the mid-60’s I was in a classroom where no one ever got an answer wrong, we all raced to be the first pencil down after a test or to finish some reading assignment.

            They didn’t send us all to some Uber-school, we had recess and lunch with all the other kids, and some of those kids were as bright or brighter than my classmates, they just didn’t test as well.

            And when the funding dried up and we went back to join our classmates, my ability to learn was not impacted.

            Because non of that mattered. The B, C, and D/F students did not hold me or any of my previous peers back.

            In fact, we’d help tutor the other kids.

            Your home life has 1000% more impact on your education than your school or your ability to learn. And I’ll bet those kids you listed by race all come from homes where they’re encouraged to learn.

            I’d be fine with non-profit charter schools in some cases, but that’s not what is being pushed. School choice is double-speak for killing the teacher’s union and giving my tax money to Wall Street.

            One of my 2017 resolutions is less commenting on blogs and more direct action, so I won’t be bothering you much, gonna’ go overthrown some governments.



            “My message implied no such thing, you’re projecting.”

            Not Tom, you are not being honest with yourself. The term “Master Race” is always used to describe whites. I am not “projecting” (a term you use with mind numbing repetition any time I make you uncomfortable with an observation about you) anything.

            Also, what I said is not nonsense, it is reality. Your personal anecdote from the sixties has little relationship in comparison to education today. First of all, it is personal in nature. You have no real way of assessing how much or how little the experience actually affected you. To you, whatever happened is “normal” because you can’t really assess what “might have been” had the special classes continued. Of course you would think it had no effect on you because you have basis of comparison. You can’t see if, perhaps, you came up short in the quality of your education, or the mental development you experienced because of the opportunities presented to you was less than it could have been. It is too subjective.

            Secondly, the schools of the 1960s are not the same as the schools of today. The schools of the 1960s had some measure of discipline in the classrooms and parents supported teachers. Today, there is little discipline in the classroom and if the little darlings “rights” are abridged, parents will file a lawsuit. Teachers and administrators are afraid of the students and the parents because of the threat of lawsuits, and the politically correct environment of schools today prevents schools from making any judgements about what constitutes acceptable behavior.

            “School choice is double-speak for killing the teacher’s union and giving my tax money to Wall Street.”

            I have had it pointed out to me many times on this blog that once I pay my taxes, it is no longer my money. But if it makes you feel better, why don’t you think of your tax dollars as going for AFDC, Head Start, Medicaid, etc., and my tax dollars will go for Wall Street?

            As far as killing the Teachers Union is concerned, how could school choice possibly do that? If teachers want to unionize, then they can unionize. No one is stopping them.

            “…gonna’ go overthrown some governments.”

            Well, have fun…

  4. Tucson Unified School district sits there as a living example of how increased spending yields nothing in education and the Tucson City Council rides shotgun for them making life difficult for any charter school that wants to free poor kids from the oppression of liberal democrats.

    Why in the world would we or should we increase taxes to subsidize that?

    The single most defining characteristic for states who create jobs is their level of taxation. Any new taxation should have overwhelming evidence of value – clearly that case has not been made in education. Certainly, a public opinion poll is not evidence. Over 60% of the public has always supported more education spending – its the expression of a basic value that education culture has take cruel advantage of.

  5. “This is not a tax increase. It’s an extension that would prevent schools from suffering a huge budget cut.”

    Only a democrat would have the chutzpah to say a tax increase is NOT a tax increase. An extension of a tax increase IS a tax increase because the tax increase originally approved would go away if not for the extension. This Orwellian “Double Speak” is why so many people don’t trust democrats and what they say.

    It is like when democrats refer to “funding cuts” when something does not receive the “requested funding amount”. There really is no funding cut, there just isn’t the size of an increase that they wanted. Again, Orwellian “Double Speak”.

    “The Republic could immensely improve and elevate the level of policy discourse in this state by firing Robert Robb and kicking his sorry ass to the curb.”

    Yes, heaven forbid that the tender sensitivities of democrats should be sullied by an opposing point of view. Once again, AzBM, you demonstrate that “tolerance” for which democrats are so well known. May I give you sage advice you often give to trolls on this blog? If you don’t like it, don’t read it. Why stress yourself?

    • It is however you look at it Steve. I prefer to see the status quo as just that, nothing changes. I do understand your point about paying less in sales tax. My wish would be to let the sales tax expire and increase the income tax (understanding that this won’t happen). I would make the first $25,000 earned income tax free and then raise the upper end. People who are at that threshold of low income/lower middle class will pump every new dollar back into the economy.

      AZBM is absolutely wrong about replacing Robb or calling him a hack. He is who he is and brings a different perspective to the opinion pages. I have actually admired Robb’s candid comments about how he himself would advocate raising revenues for education.

      • I agree, it is a matter of perspective, but the narrative that goes with that perspective is misleading, and that narrative is trotted out every year at funding time and used to deceive people who are not well informed.

        As far as Robb of the Arizona Republic is concerned, I think he adds to a good mixture of left and right on their staff. E.J. Montini drives me crazy sometimes with his leftist slant on everything, but even him I agree with sometimes. I always enjoy reading what he has to say even though I think he is wrong most times. And Linda Valdez is just a screaming harpy, but I wouldn’t miss what she has to say. It is good to hear that there are others, like you, who enjoy the divergence of opinion.

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