by David Safier
A Capitol Times article (subscription only) about Prop 204, the renewal of the one cent sales tax, most of which will go for education, talks about the strategies the anti-204, moneyed interests are planning to take to try and defeat the initiative. They're going to say it was "written by special interest groups for their own benefit."
I don't know about that. School-aged children make up the special interest group that will benefit the most if/when Prop. 204 passes. As a retired high school teacher, I can tell you, my students couldn't have written the initiative. Way over their heads.
Of course, there are other special interest groups, like the Quality Education and Jobs folks who put the initiative together. They, like me, have a special interest in the education of our children. It causes us physical pain -- literally physical pain -- to see how underfunded our schools are in Arizona.
Of course, the fat cats who want to defeat the bill wouldn't dare mention the K-12 children who will get the vast majority of the money to improve the quality of their educations. The forces amassing against the initiative are talking about people they describe as "lobbyists and government union representatives and fat cats who want to live off the billion dollars plus that will come in off this measure without any accountability." They're referring to the 10% of the initiative that will form the "State Infrastructure Fund." Why doesn't the anti-204 crowd just say they don't want better roads and bridges in the state if it means some union workers will get jobs?
I've been posting about the amount of money the legislature pulled out of education over the past few years. Here's the breakdown in the article.
Between fiscal years 2008 and 2012, the worst years of the economic downturn, the state made hard cuts of roughly $671 million to K-12 education. In addition, lawmakers also deferred payments to schools by almost $1 billion and swept $184 million from the districts’ cash balances.
Add those figures together, and you get $1.85 billion cut from education in the state that already had the lowest spending per student in the nation. Are you willing to trust these people to do right by our children? I'd rather make sure they spend no less on education than they did in 2011 or 2012 and put the sales tax money on top of that -- which is exactly what Prop. 204 does.