The Save Our Students initiative is a weak half measure that will not achieve its goal


Doug Ducey, the man hired by Koch Industries to manage their Southwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Arizona (h/t Charles Piece), has dictated that there “shall be no new taxes” on his watch.

DuceyClassroomsIl Duce has vowed to oppose any citizen initiated ballot measure that seeks to impose new taxes for education (ironic photo) during his term, and he will rely on “dark money” from his “Kochtopus” henchmen to do it.

An organization calling itself Save Our Students has filed paperwork with the Secretary of State for a citizens initiative to cap university tuition in Arizona to the cost of living increase from the previous year and to mandate the rate be guaranteed for four consecutive years. The measure also proposes to increase corporate taxes if the Legislature appropriates less to universities than it did in fiscal-year 2015 (why they would choose the nadir of university funding is a mystery to me). Click here for full text of initiative:  PDF.

The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports, Proposal to cap tuition gets frosty reception:

The Legislature and Gov. Doug Ducey cut $99 million from the state’s three universities in fiscal-year 2016, leading to the regents’ decision to increase tuition and fees for the next school year. The spending reduction cut state aid to about $650 million, compared with nearly $1.1 billion eight years ago.

Most students attending Arizona public universities will see tuition and fee increases between 3 and 4 percent next fall.

Ducey’s spokesman, Daniel Scarpinato, said the governor has made it clear he does not support raising taxes. Ducey last month warned business groups in a private meeting against pursuing a ballot measure without his approval or he would fight it with dark money.

Katie Paquet, a regents’ spokeswoman, said they can’t take a position for or against the measure.  But she said it probably won’t keep tuition affordable or hold the Legislature’s feet to the fire, and it could have negative consequences.

I have previously posted about the negative consequences of this ill-considered ballot measure. Capping tuition is not the answer. More state funding is. Despite the “tax surcharge” on corporations provision in this ballot measure, our lawless Tea-Publican legislature has routinely ignored such voter mandated spending.

For example, on health care: Prop. 204 (2000), Arizona Supreme Court allows cuts to AHCCCS to stand (“it lets stand an Appeals Court ruling that effectively said the budget cuts violated the measure, Proposition 204, but the court couldn’t force the Legislature to obey the law”), and the legislature-referred Prop. 301 (2000), the inflation adjusted school funding formula for K-12, currently in court in Cave Creek Unified School District v. State of Arizona. Judge Cooper orders our lawless legislature to pay restitution to public school districts now. Yeah, the legislature refused to comply with that order, and the case is still on appeal.

So let’s assume, for sake of argument, that Il Duce and his “Kochtopus” henchman fail to stop this ballot measure from being enacted with a massive amount of “dark money” negative ads. Our lawless Tea-Publican legislature will let the tuition caps go into effect, but what would lead anyone in their right mind to believe that our lawless Tea-Publican legislature will actually impose the “tax surcharge” on corporations for additional tax revenue — a heretical violation of the GOP’s First Commandment of “no new taxes” — given the history above? And can the courts even compel our lawless Tea-Publican legislature to obey the law under the separation of powers doctrine? (See Prop. 204).

What we will wind up with is tuition caps, but no additional tax revenue for the universities. This invariably will lead to the elimination of courses, degree programs, professors, and support staff.  The universities would have to start limiting enrolment as they downsize. There is a preview of things to come with this report today. University of Arizona planning layoffs:

Layoffs are looming at the University of Arizona.

School officials soon must decide who stays and who goes in a cost-cutting plan that will mean pink slips for some UA employees.

“The reality is we will have staff reductions,” UA chief finance officer Gregg Goldman told the Arizona Board of Regents’ finance committee Wednesday at its meeting on the UA campus.

“What we want is to be thoughtful and caring and try to minimize that,” said Goldman.

* * *

The budget calls for UA to internally cut or reallocate more than $43 million this coming school year, including the $28.4 million funding cut recently imposed by the Legislature.

The goal is to position the university for future growth by redirecting spending to high priority areas identified by the UA’s strategic plan, the finance boss said.

Details of the cuts are still being worked out. The UA will put out a list in August that shows which positions or programs will be cut, and the financial impact of the changes, said Chris Sigurdson, a spokesman for UA President Ann Weaver Hart.

This Save Our Students ballot measure is a weak half measure that will not achieve its goals, because our lawless Tea-Publican legislature will simply choose to ignore it. If we want to fix tax policy in this state, as I’ve said many times, we have to go after the GOP’s “weapon of mass destruction” directly, repeal Prop. 108 (1992), the “Two-Thirds for Taxes” amendment, Arizona Constitution Article 9, Section 22.

If you want to confront the evil GOP bastards and their “no new taxes” First Commandment, then do so directly, don’t give me weak half measures that only attempt to nibble away at it.


  1. ”…or he would fight it with dark money.”

    Were those his exact words? Or your interpretation of what he said? Your Boogey Man of “dark money” haunts much of what you say and do, so I suspect it is your interpretation.

    Since ASU is the largest University in the Nation, perhaps we need to rethink the direction our Universities have taken. Scaling back on admissions might not be a bad idea. Instead of accepting everyone who walks in the door, perhaps we should apply some standards. Maybe we should curtail the remedial education classes and instruction that wide open admittance requires and save some money there. Setting some standards for admission to our Universities might actually improve the quality of the education the students receive.

    Yes, I know our Constitution calls for something different, but just as liberals like to see a “flexible” National Constitution, perhaps the State needs to modify it’s Constitution to acknowledge that not every student is a College/University quality student. Pretending – as we do – that all students should go on to College is foolish. Perhaps if this ballot measure passes and the Universities have to tighten their belts they will be more realistic about what they are suppose to do. Instead of seeking to expand their fiefdoms maybe they should remember they are Universities.

    I say let the ballot measure pass…see what happens. It is certainly a better alternative to never ending tuition increases.

      • Direct quote from the Capital Times or not, the citation doesn’t pass the common sense test. I have NEVER heard a Republican refer to ANY funding source as “dark money”. That comes purely from the mouths of democrats. And if the quote is suspect, then the entire discussion becomes suspect, as well. After all, we are talking partisan politics here…

  2. I wonder if this organization that wants to cap tuition in Arizona is actually a dark money surrogate of the Kochtopus? Why do I think that? Because it seems to me that if they cut off funding via the Legislature and Governor and then cut off the ONLY OTHER source of revenue for state universities, the universities die quicker than they would by just cutting state moneys alone. Also if the cap is in place people are less likely to be mad at Il Duce and his kronies than they would be if students see their tuition going up year by year. I.e. Without the cap students see a direct connection between their increased costs and their votes, with the cap they are smply going to see universities with larger classes, fewer offerings, and less services, but they won’t see that direct connection to elected officials. Ultimately it will drive students to the for profit colleges and the entire university system collapses.

  3. I totally agree with your criticism of this proposed initiative. Instead let’s give Arizona students “Ducey’s
    deal” and roll tuition back to what it was when Ducey went to ASU in the early eighty’s. We should also restore the tax rates to what they were the early eighty’s to fund our educational system is it should be.

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