Republican budget cuts + back to school =
crowded classrooms, delayed repairs, less money for schools and students
STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Children all over Arizona are going back to school, and they will experience firsthand the effects of the billions of dollars that Republicans have cut from education.
During the past four years, Tea Party Republicans have slashed about $2 billion from schools across the state. The consequences of such funding cuts are devastating to schools, students and teachers.
Rep. Lela Alston, D-Phoenix (District 15), is a former teacher and currently serves on the Phoenix Union High School District Governing Board, and she is concerned about the challenges schools are facing because of the Republican budget cuts.
“Teachers are facing overcrowded classrooms with fewer resources available to them and to the students,” Alston said. “Funding education should be at the top of the list of priorities but the Republicans in the Legislature would rather push their extremist agenda than focus on what is most important.”
Rep. Lynne Pancrazi, D-Yuma (District 24), also is a former educator and thinks the budget cuts will affect the state for generations to come.
“Public education is the future of our country and the state. What we invest in our kid’s education now is what we reap in the future. We need an educated work force. If we invest in our children’s public education today, it will produce that educated work force,” Pancrazi said. “How do the Republicans expect our kids to compete in the world economy, if we aren’t making sure they get the best education possible?”
Rep. Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley (District 11), serves on the Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board and is a member of the House Education Committee. He opposed the Republican plan to underfund schools.
“Districts are being shorted $249 million because Republicans undercut the building renewal fund. The law requires that schools get this money because they rely on it to repair damaged roofs, keep buildings safe and maintain infrastructure,” Meyer said. “Now, because of the Republicans, school districts will continue to delay much needed repairs and maintenance. Since 2009, we’ve seen the roofs on several schools collapse. How much longer can that go on? By ignoring the law and failing to adequately fund education, the Republicans have made choices that will cost our state more in the long run, while potentially jeopardizing student safety.”
House Assistant Minority Leader Steve Farley, D-Tucson (District 28), said his two children are going back to school. He was taken aback by the lack of resources available.
“Tea Party Republicans decided to withhold an $88 million inflation adjustment from schools, although the law requires that schools get that support. Additionally, the majority didn’t fulfill state funding mandates of $239 million for facilities, equipment and supplies,” Farley said. “In some cases, schools can’t even afford paper and books. Republicans in the Legislature tried to balance the budget on the backs of our school children. For the sake of our kids and our economy, this cannot continue. Arizona Democrats are working to put a stop to runaway education cuts.”