This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. As I've written in a number of posts, I never expected Ducey to spend a penny more on education after Prop 123 without a fight, nor did other pro-education folks like me who held their noses and voted for what we considered to be the least bad option. There's only one way to get more money for education out of the majority of elected Republicans who are dead set on dismantling our system of public education, and that's to keep up the pressure.
Remember, Ducey and his cronies didn't create Prop 123 because they liked the idea of increasing education funding. It was only when they realized public opinion was turning against them that they concocted a plan that would add some money to education without touching the budget. It'll take far more public pressure to make them actually commit to more money for education this time, because it will have to come from the state coffers, not the state land trust. Success is far from guaranteed, but if there's no fight, I can guarantee Ducey's "next step" will be to step away from the funding issue as quickly as he can.
Ducey didn't suggest Prop 123 because he wanted to put more money into education. He and his buddies were perfectly happy to continue ignoring the court's ruling that they have to replace the money they illegally stole from the schools, and to continue cutting the education budget year after year. But in February, 2015, they had the fear of
The Voters put into them courtesy of a Morrison Institute poll
. The poll found that voters wanted more money for education, even if it meant more taxes.
Nearly two-thirds of Arizonans, including more than 50 percent of Republicans, would be willing to pay an additional $200 in state taxes annually to better fund K-12 education.
Those are frightening polling numbers if you're Ducey and the Republican leadership. If voters want more money for schools, and they say they're willing to pay more taxes to fund it, that threatens the Republican agenda of slashing the budget and cutting taxes for their buddies. They feared, if they continuing to stonewall the court order, they might find themselves with a voter rebellion on their hands. People might start listening to Democrats and moderate Republicans. Anti-public education conservative legislators could find their jobs threatened at the ballot box. They had to do something.
I've been writing a lot lately about how, since Prop 123 passed, Ducey sidesteps the issue of education funding every time he's asked what his "next step" will be. He wants the next step to be for people to stop pestering him so he can get back to cutting education funding in next year's budget—or if he has no other choice, continue with the same bottom-of-the-barrel funding which has been the norm for too many years—but we're not likely to hear him say that out loud.