I wanted to share the recent opinion piece about the Democratic Education Funding Plan that ran in The Arizona Republic written by House Democratic Leader, Eric Meyer, and Senate Democratic Leader, Katie Hobbs. Our democratic caucus proposal would get permanent money into schools immediately without raising taxes and without raiding the state land trust fund.
Democrats: Our figures are conservative and go to schools immediately. Why do Republicans object?
By: House Democratic Leader Eric Meyer and Senate Democratic Leader Katie Hobbs
When Arizona legislative Democrats released a viable education funding plan, it seemed to strike a nerve with Republicans. They launched into vitriolic criticism of the proposal, perhaps before they had time to review the details.
If they had taken a real look, they would have found that it is a solid recommendation based on sound economic projections. The idea is to put nearly $4 billion into public schools over the next 10 years. This is accomplished by using a combination of cash balances, ongoing revenue and a cap on the corporate school tuition organization program.
There are several benefits of this solution, which supports the belief that education is a long-term investment and the foundation for Arizona’s future economic success.
It would put money in the schools immediately. This is unlike the plans from legislative Republicans and Gov. Doug Ducey, which would further delay an infusion of desperately needed funding.
They would also require voters to go back to the polls to tell the Legislature that they want education funding to be a priority… again. The voters have already given the Legislature a mandate. The state has an obligation to schools that it must meet.
The Democratic education funding plan allows the state to pay what it owes to public schools, without raising taxes, without sweeping money from First Things First and without creating a fiscal cliff. It also protects the principal of the state land trust, ensuring a more sustainable funding source for schools in the future.
The plan does not assume any growth in the $250 million even though the budget enacted in March of this year assumes revenue growth of 3.8 percent, 4.4 percent, and 5.1 percent in fiscal years 2016 through 2018.The entire plan is based on revenue projections from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, which says we can expect at least $250 million of the $381 million in unexpected revenue received in fiscal year 2015 to continue into fiscal year 2016 and beyond.
We do not have a crystal ball and we cannot magically predict the state’s economic future. Instead, we rely on the expert analysis of JLBC. This is the same analysis the Republicans often rely on when they are writing their budget proposals.
Our plan is based on conservative estimates related to the state’s lukewarm economic recovery. If the economy changes course, we will re-evaluate, as we do every year when the Legislature creates a budget. It is simply counterproductive to dismiss this plan because of who proposed it. It deserves consideration.
The viability of the Democratic education funding plan is a question of political will, not economics. Arizona has the resources available to fully fund education for the first time in years. Even better, this plan leaves resources in the general fund to address the critical needs of child safety and higher education.
State Democrats are committed to the idea that education needs to be an immediate priority. We believe the current and long-term economic stability of the state depends on it.
A full 10-year analysis of the Democratic education funding proposal is available at www.azhousedemocrats.com and at www.azsenatedems.blogspot.com. Contrary to what Senate President Andy Biggs said, this plan was carefully crafted in the best interest of future generations – not scribbled on a napkin.
If you would like to join the conversation about permanent funding solutions for our schools, please share your thoughts on Facebook and Twitter and use the hashtag #FundEducationNow.