AZ has the largest ed spending cuts in the country: yet more evidence we must pass Prop. 204

by David Safier

I wrote a long post arguing against Mark Evans' column where he said we shouldn't pass Prop. 204, the initiative which would renew the already existing one cent sales tax and dedicate most of the funds to education. His major argument against the initiative is that we shouldn't "wall off" education funding because it limits the legislature's flexibility dealing with budget issues.

Here's what that flexibility has brought us over the last five years: the largest percentage drop in per student spending in the country. Remember, we were already rock bottom in the nation in our per student spending in 2008 when the counting started.

Per-student-spendingThe study is by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The partial table at right shows the top 17 states in per-student spending cuts (full table below the fold). Arizona tops the list with a 21.89% drop in inflation-adjusted dollars over the five years. Virginia, number 17, cut less than half that much.

Remember, Arizona was already rock bottom in per student spending. Knowing that, our Republican legislature, with Jan Brewer's help, cut that already abysmally low funding by $21.89 out of every hundred dollars we were spending per student, more than any other state.

For people who say they support adequate funding for education yet are worried the legislature will lose its budgeting "flexibility" if Prop. 204 makes sure it spends no less than it did in the 2011 or 2012 budgets, here's the kind of company you're keeping. Republican Rep. John Kavanagh:

Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said that if passed the measure would tie the hands of the Legislature in determining where funds would best be spent.

“It removes budgeting flexibility from the Legislature and it does budgeting in a vacuum, not taking into account other needs and wants,” he said.

 We simply cannot trust Republican legislators when it comes to education. They have no problem balancing the budget on the backs of our children. Prop. 204 is our best chance to stop the cuts in education funding.

The complete table is below the fold.

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5 thoughts on “AZ has the largest ed spending cuts in the country: yet more evidence we must pass Prop. 204”

  1. We are spoending more than 9 billion dollars on 1.1 million students. Thats a lot of money and there is no evidence that more money will help. There is a lot of evidence that higher taxes will reduce opportunities for our students.

  2. Twenty percent of children in Arizona live in poverty. Do people in Fountain Hills know that? Yet, the legislature doesn’t fund full day kindergarten, one of the best academic interventions for poor children.

    Beginning next year, students who fail the AIMS reading test, will be retained, yet there are no state supports in place, to prevent failure.

    The Dept of Ed has decided that Kinder teachers must have an early childhood certification, so there are numerous vacancies in schools for kinder teachers. Yet, the legislature will let us have a substitute with NO teacher certification in the vacancy, rather than filling it with an otherwise “highly qualified” elementary teacher.

    The ideologues in the legislature are destroying AZ’s future. It’s really a shame.

  3. Rep. Kavanagh:

    I was in a meeting in the Midwest recently and the minute I mentioned Arizona, a colleague immediately said: “What is happening with your schools? I can’t imagine moving my kids there!”

    Her comment speaks volumes about our national reputation, our capacity to attract investment and jobs and the type of values associated with our state. Enough is enough.

    The ideological games that are being played out in your legislature are not just harming my kids – they are undercutting our workforce and the economic foundation of this state.

    I don’t give a flying fig about ‘liberals’ or ‘conservatives’ right now. I don’t want to hear about more unfunded mandates and platitudes about ‘choice’. No more excuses about why we won’t invest in our schools.

    I fully support Proposition 204.

  4. You cannot trust liberals either. At the height of the budget cuts, First Things First, another voter protected program, sat on over $300 million dollars of tax money and did nothing to ease the cuts to child-related programs. That’s what I mean by operating in a vacuum and having no flexibility.

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