Friday, April 22, 2016

Governor Ice Cream vs Arizona - Part 1

The information in these two posts comes from the K-12 Pubic Education and Proposition 123, published by the League of Women Voters of Arizona on February 1, 2016. and "Governor Could 'Pack' Supreme Court Under Bill," Tim Steller's Sunday, April 17th column in the Arizona Daily Star.  
When they say it more clearly than I can, I've italicized my plagiarsm.

Amidst the Trump-tantrums and delegate grabbing and voter suppression, Arizona's Governor Doug Ducey, former CEO of the failed Cold Stone Creamery franchise operation, has taken bad behavior to new heights.  If, at the end, you are wondering why I still live here, know that I ask myself the same question on a fairly regular basis.  It's embarrassing.

Growing up, I believed that my education was important to everyone.  I knew no grown-ups who were against good schools.  Taxes were contested at every election, but the rhetoric was anti-tax rather than you're-using-the-money-incorrectly-and-don't-deserve-more.  Everyone understood the connection between good schools and good communities; who would want to live where the public schools were anything short of excellent?

Arizona is a different kettle of fish.  Politicians seem to be educators .. or think and act as if they are educators. For small government aficionados, they are awfully eager to insert themselves where they really don't belong.

They apparently know best how to allocate resources.  Translators are, in their view, Administrative Overhead rather than Classroom Expenses.  That's probably not obvious to the kindergarten teacher with 27 students speaking 7 different languages, including 3 dialects of Urdu..... but I don't think the realities of public education are motivating the Governor and his cronies.  In their efforts to defund public schools, they are willing to resort to all kinds of shenanigans.

Why would the governor and the legislature want to divert funds from pubic schools?  The initial backers of  Prop 123 have deep personal and financial ties to charter schools, and a crass reading of the proposition could lead one to believe that the Governor and his allies are trying to destroy public education in Arizona for their own personal gain.

Why be crass?  Why connect the fact that the Secretary of Education home schooled her children with her lack of respect for the work done in the public schools .... the public schools which are there for everyone, at every level, at any time of the year.

Proposition 123 is the Governor's attempt to calm the waters after (i)n 2013 the State Supreme Court ruled that the state legislature had violated the voter mandate by only partially funding the inflation adjustments for three years.  They ruled (the voter approved mandate) could not be undercut by legislative action.  

That's right, Governor Ice Cream.  You and your legislative buddies are not allowed to decide that you know better than the voters.  You have to pay attention to the will of the people.... and that goes for more than just the "don't raise my taxes" people.  Not raising taxes has become your mantra; I hope you can justify your promised business tax credits/exemptions which will lead to a loss of sales tax revenues.  If sales tax revenues are not greater than one percent of the previous year, the inflation factor will not apply.

The formula also caps the K-12 Funding at 49% of the general fund.  The Legislature is able to alter general fund revenues by the diversion of general fund monies through tax cuts (and) tuition tax credits.  Those tuition tax credits can be used to subsidize private schooling. See my rant on this 6 paragraphs up; I'm too agitated right now to retype it.  

The legislation uses words like "large gaps" and "economic slowdown" to authorize it to cut back on school funding.  The wording of "large gaps" and "economic slowdown" is not defined and could allow the Legislature to once again cut back on funding public education.

The Legislature has shown no interest in funding public education..... am I saying that I don't trust them?  In a word, Yes.  Yes, denizens, his offer is based in quicksand.

And then there is the State Land Trust.  Federal land was given to the state (at its founding) for the purpose of education. Prop 123 increases the distribution form the State Land Trust from 2.5 percent annually to 6.9 percent each year for 10 years through a change in the Arizona Constitution. ... with passage by Arizona's voters, it will also require federal approval to change the Enabling Act for the State Land Trust.  Changing the Constitution is something that should be debated loudly and often.  It's not something that should be buried in the body of a bill.

In addition, depending on inflation... the settlement could dip into and reduce the principal or corpus of the land trust.  Anyone who has done any thinking about retirement knows that you never, ever dip into your principal.  If you do, you do it at the end of your life, when all your rainy days are pouring down on you at once.  You don't do it when your Rainy Day Fund is approaching $1,000,000,000.

Aside from the significant legal challenges suggested by the WP Carey School of Business in 2015, there's the notion of robbing the future to meet the present annoyances.  None of the legislators will be around when the children of the class of 2026 are wondering where their desks and books have gone.  But someone should be looking out for them.

Only once, when I was growing up, did my District lose an election.  They resubmitted the budget two months later and it passed overwhelmingly.  My parents and I rang doorbells and posted signs and harangued shop clerks and neighbors and this time, nobody stayed home.  It's imperative that Arizona's voters take their cue from my childhood neighbors.

There are educators on the side of the Proposition. They worry that there will be no other options available to them.  They worry that any other solution will be worse.  They report that the Governor said that this is his best offer.

Since when do educators give in to bullies?  Is this the lesson those Teachers of the Year who are advocating this measure gave in their classrooms?  I certainly hope not.


  1. I am suppose to be on the permanent mail in ballot list, I have gotten other ballots, but since the Presidential preference debacle, I have not yet seen my Proposition ballot and I am not sure I want to stand in line for 5 hours, but I will hunt down a polling place, bring a chair and a cooler full of water for my fellow line mates.
    I am so worried about the state of our State.

    1. It's a loose lose situation, with the lawsuits ready if it passes. Ugh.


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