Although Republicans have continued to hold their budget negotiations behind closed doors, it is not a stretch to expect more special interest tax cuts this year. Press recently reported that Governor Ducey is planning a $30 million tax-cut package – at the same time tuition at our state universities continues to rise.
That is bad news for Arizonans. As the Arizona Republic reported in February, persistent tax cuts over the last two decades have left the state with $4 billion less this year than we might have otherwise had. By consistently prioritizing special interest tax cuts, Republican leaders have failed to fund the projects that Arizonans prioritize, such as quality K-12 education, affordable higher education, and improvements in the child safety system. And that is a problem.
The Center for the Future of Arizona, a non-profit, non-partisan think tank, recently released a report that predicts 68 percent of Arizona jobs will require post-secondary education and training by 2020. Ensuring that Arizona has the skilled workforce to perform these jobs will require far greater investment in education. Now is not the time to abandon our universities and community colleges. We need to make them as effective and accessible as possible: our future economic prosperity depends on it. And in 2015, according to that same report, “225 of Arizona’s 448 public high schools send 10 or fewer students to any postsecondary education institution after graduation.” That is just not good enough, and it is time for Republicans to recognize it.
Legislative Democrats have been fighting from day one for policies that would prepare Arizona for an economically secure future. Democrats have proposed increasing the state’s commitment to education, preventative services and accountability in the Department of Child Safety, and job training programs that will move Arizona forward. See the full plan here. Arizona cannot afford more unsustainable tax cuts. Arizonans deserve a government that will invest in them.