At tomorrow's meeting, the Tucson City Council is going to be chatting about a message they'd like to send Gov. Doug Ducey and Arizona Legislature: restore funding for Joint Technical Education districts...now, please.
The state's budget cut about 7.5 percent of funding, or roughly $344, per student that enrolls in a JTED course, starting in 2016.
From the so-called memorial the council
members are considering tomorrow evening:
Whereas, JTED students are able to earn more, pay income taxes sooner and have more disposable income than their peers...and the city believes Arizona must continue to serve and educate students and sustain, if not improve, the workforce development JTEDs currently provide...any monetary cut in JTEDs is an issue of regional concern and has a serious impact on the future integrity of our skilled workforce and future prospects for Arizona and its economic recovery.
In March, business leaders, heads of Pima County's school districts and JTED leaders held a press conference
as part of the joint efforts to make a case for the program. That, of course, did not work. The state Legislature went on to approve the budget, and Ducey signed it shortly after.
"JTED was a referendum approved by tax payers in Pima County, approved at over 70 percent across the board, a huge percentage of passing a bill that says 'we want to raise our taxes because we want more money to go into career and technical education programs,'" said Pima County JTED superintendent Alan Storm at the time.
That same month, Tucson Unified School District students planned a walkout to protest the budget cuts, but the district ended up hosting a forum with hundreds of high school students. Among the speakers were U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva and TUSD board members.
"There is a choice, we can all sit and allow the Legislature in Phoenix to continue to fund prisons or to start funding you," TUSD Superintendent H.T. Sanchez said at the forum that took place at the Tucson High auditorium. "We could also do nothing, be uninformed and sit here and allow big companies that make billions of dollars a year get tax breaks, maybe that money can be redirected toward you. My personal preference is that you are supported, that you are educated, my personal preference for a better Arizona, a better Tucson is for you to take a hold of your state, it is your state, your future and your responsibility, thank you for being here. I want to tell you how many millions of dollars are going to companies for tax breaks, I want to tell you how many millions of dollars are going to prisons."