In November 2000, Arizona voters passed Prop. 301 which mandated that one piece of education funding will get an increase for inflation each year. It has a limit of no more than a 2% increase, so even if inflation rises steeply, taxpayers will be protected.
In 2009, lawmakers said, "Nah, we don't wanna do that any more." They passed a budget that had no increase for inflation to the Base Support Level for schools.
Keep 2 things in mind:
- It is NOT an increase in what schools can do. It is just enough money to buy the same number of pencils per student as the previous year. If one book costs $1 this year, then next year we need $1.02 for one book to allow for inflation.
- Voters approved it in a state-wide election. That means lawmakers are not allowed to change what the voters approved.
Then the lawsuit was filed. School districts and advocates including school children's families who were harmed by this cut to school funding filed the suit.
In September, 2013, the Arizona Supreme Court told the legislature, "Ya gotta pay the schools.
Schools are right. Legislators who refuse to pay the inflation increase are wrong."
(Well, that's the gist of the ruling. Actual Legal-ese can be found here. )
All of this led up to the Education Funding Protests at the Capitol and all over the state, this year. Voters want adequate funding for our schools. That's the only way to fix desks, replace books, and pay teachers enough for a middle-class living. -- Currently, we are not doing even that! Voters are angry. We're standing up against it!
Now, elected Republican extremists in the legislature are still appealing the lawsuit and haggling ...
... and haggling over the amount.
Instead of paying our schools, they are paying more and more lawyers' fees.
This lawsuit started in 2010. The legislators who were elected to be the Republican Leadership are the ones deciding to pay the fees, and our tax dollars are paying for it. -- instead of going to schools.
That is wrong. Unlike our current District 18 incumbents, I will fight for what's right for our schools, for our future.
This inflation increase is only a part of the total cuts to schools. The graph to the right shows the cuts. Of the $336 million the courts ruled is owed just for inflation, lawmakers paid $74 million this year. (262 + 74 = 336. Thanks to Children's Action Alliance for the graph. )
We should not have to fight for this relatively small inflation amount. This should be basic to making Education our #1 priority.
The money is there. We can pay the inflation amount even without a tax increase. We just have to decide to use it for schools, instead of giving even more tax cuts to ever-more corporations.
That is the reason that Gov. Ducey and his extremist cronies do not like the Democrats' plan to fund schools. The Democrats' plan would use the budget surplus for schools, while Gov. Ducey has pledged to make more cuts.
I will stand up to Gov. Ducey and his wrong priorities. I will continue my work for quality public education in a bi-partisan way. We have to stop paying lawyers and pay our schools.
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Thank you for reading, and caring about our children. I welcome your comments and questions below, and in social media.