Arizona torn on school funding-related Proposition 204
In November, Arizonans will have the ability to vote on Proposition 204, which would make a temporary one-cent sales tax increase earmarked for education permanent.
Prop 204 comes on the back of Proposition 100, the one-cent sales tax that is set to expire in 2013. Arizona voters originally approved Prop 100 to lessen the impacts of education cuts made by the state.
"The results of these cuts have meant much larger class sizes, all-day kindergarten funding was cut by the state," Ann Eve Pedersen, President of the Arizona Education Network and proponent of Prop 204, told News/Talk 92.3 KTAR's Karie & Chuck on Friday.
"The people of Arizona very much see the need for a permanent source of funding for education that is immune from the political whims of legislators," she said, adding that funds would go to vocational programs, community colleges and GED programs, in addition to schools.
Pedersen said Prop 204 is the best way to protect the future of Arizona students from the legislature, who doles out funding and makes decisions based on politics and does no value education.
"It'll provide permanent, dedicated revenue for education and the key here is revenue the legislature can't touch," she said.
Pedersen argued that Arizona's poor education system is harming the economy because companies do not feel the state is producing high-quality workers.
However, one Arizona leader feels Prop 204 itself would damage Arizona's frail economy.
"It would make the state of Arizona the second-highest sales tax rate in the country and devastate our economy," said Arizona Treasurer Doug Ducey, adding that the Arizona, Phoenix, Tucson and Hispanic Chambers of Commerce are against Prop 204.
The proposition is meant to fund schools, but Ducey said the money will vanish into Arizona's bureaucracy, not be pumped into schools.
"It won't reform education. It has zero accountability," he said.
Ducey said Prop 204 uses the word "may" in every reform, meaning it's likely the state will use the funding for whatever it wishes.
"That's why there's $100 million in Proposition 204 that goes road contractors and not teachers," he said.
Ducey said the entirety of Arizona's school system needs to be questioned, including the organizations of the hundreds of school districts in the state and that throwing money at the same problem likely won't solve the issues at hand.