Monday, April 18, 2016

Arizona:A real second step is a real investment in our schools

Phoenix-Arizona Democrats will continue to be the champions of public education, teachers and students. Since the start of the year, the governor and Republican leaders have promised that Prop. 123 (the proposed settlement in the public school inflation funding lawsuit that began in 2010) would be the first step in restoring deep budget cuts to education. The state’s budget is pending, and we must hold them accountable.

Over the past few years, Republicans have held budget votes late at night. We’re prepared for that—we’re ready to stay late and fight for the second step in funding our schools. Arizona’s budget is a statement of priorities, and House Democrats want to make it clear that education remains at the top of our list.

It looks like Arizona will have about $200 millionmore in sustainable funding in next year’s budget, according to estimates from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. House Democrats are proposing that we invest more than 80 percent of that money in education – both K-12 and universities. This is the best way to ensure a strong economic future for our state.

We think the next step should be restoring money cut from K-12 public schools so that we can increase teacher salaries and keep them from leaving the state, reduce class sizes and get supplies into classrooms. We also want to get money to universities so that they can reverse the latest round of tuition increases recently proposed.

It’s time for Republicans to make good on their commitments and to prioritize our schools and our students over special interest tax cuts and corporate welfare. This is especially true now that we are hearing that attempts to stimulate the economy with these kinds of tax cuts during the recession will cost the state about $350 million.

It’s time to do this the right way – by putting money into our schools and attracting business here by making Arizona an even better place to live and learn.