Monday, June 29, 2015

What Should Arizona Do With A $250 Million Windfall? Invest in Education? Republicans Say To Soon For Spending Spree

Arizona's unexpected $250 million windfall sets up battle in Legislature
Some are greeting the good news with calls to quickly invest more in education. But Arizona Governor Doug Ducey and Republican legislative leaders say it's too soon for a spending spree
Arizona is expecting to end the fiscal year with $250 million more in the budget than initially projected. Our Legislature should be scrambling to get that money into our schools. Instead, Republican leaders continue to drag their feet, leaving schools in dire financial straits.
Arizona has the resources needed to fund education and invest in our future – but the Republican leaders in this state have made a choice not to. 

This new money should be used right now to help pay the $330 million that the court says Arizona schools are due for inflation funding. And the governor and other leaders should be working with stakeholders across the state to develop a long-term plan for fully funding education.

If the Republicans continue to neglect funding for education, what should Arizonans expect to see as a result of years of budget cuts to education?

  • Lower test scores – “The more money invested, the higher the test scores,” said ASU Morrison Institute for Public Policy Senior Policy Analyst Dan Huntington.
  • Increase in classroom sizes and effects on teachers - a former Phoenix Elementary School District governing board member said in a recent interview that the state budget cuts did mean schools had to increase their classroom sizes and freeze teacher compensation.  A recent report shows that teachers are leaving Arizona “in droves.”
  • Student safety impacted – some schools will have to scale back facilities maintenance, security guards and shared nurses.

Funding our schools now is an investment in our future. A strong economic development strategy should include significant funding for education. It’s time to #AskDuceyWhy he and other Republican leaders won’t invest in education funding right now. 

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