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.
In 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?