Monday, March 02, 2015

Is the governor paying attention?

The Capitol lawn was recently packed with hundreds of teachers, parents, students and concerned citizens delivering a very clear message to Gov. Doug Ducey about his proposed budget – “No ifs, ands, or buts – no more budget cuts.”
House Democrats joined the rally, calling for the governor to invest in education. Do not be fooled by Ducey's claim that his budget puts more money in the classroom. He is playing a shell game - cutting K-12 education by about $13 million and refusing to return the voter-mandated $330 million inflation funding to our schools. 
For years, Republicans have been balancing the budget on the backs of Arizona kids. Teachers' salaries are too low and classroom sizes are too big. By failing to invest in education, the governor continues to jeopardize the state's economic stability. Any true economic recovery plan focuses on education, so that students are prepared for higher education and for 21st century jobs.

But the governor has also proposed slashing $75 million from universities. This prompted ASU President Michael Crow to write a letter in which he stated that “Arizona's public universities again shoulder the primary responsibility for balancing the state budget.” He added that Ducey's budget “signals to the state and the nation that higher education is a low priority in Arizona.”

President Crow is right. 

A budget is a statement of values. Ducey's budget cuts education funding, while bankrolling $100 million over three years for a new private prison. This despite the fact that Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan told the House Appropriations Committee that there is currently space available in some state prisons. Does this mean Ducey values incarceration more than education?

It is also an indication that the governor is out of touch with what Arizonans want. A recent poll from the Morrison Institute shows that education is a top priority for people in this state. The message is loud and clear; the governor needs to fund education. The question remains, is he paying attention?

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