Friday, August 5, 2016

Ducey 'Next Step' Watch: Day 78. Primaries Edition

Posted By on Fri, Aug 5, 2016 at 2:41 PM

It's been two months and a few weeks since Prop 123 passed. As promised, some money has been distributed to districts around the state which they wouldn't have seen otherwise. That's the first step Governor Ducey was talking about in the lead-up to the election. With vote-by-mail ballots making their way to people's homes marking the official opening of the primary elections, it's time to ask once again, where do we stand, Next-Stepwise?

The AZ Republic has a good article on the subject. Here's what I learned.

Ducey is still pushing his No New Taxes mantra—no surprise there—and is also saying, No New Funds. According to the article, Ducey's next step is a push for "outcomes, not funding." Watch for news from Ducey's Classrooms First Initiatives Council, which will recommend ways to redistribute our current education funding. Spoiler alert. Expect charters to do very well in the proposals, along with schools in high rent districts. Since this is a zero sum game, expect school districts with poor and minority children to be the losers.

The heavy hitters in the business community, like the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, agree with Ducey. Prop 123 relieved the pressure for funding increases, which is just fine by them. Their advice to the man in the governor's chair is, "Keep those yearly tax cuts coming, Doug!"

Pro-public education groups want to see more money above and beyond Prop 123. The Arizona Education Association is reminding people that Prop 123 isn't new money. It's what the courts say the legislature owes the schools—actually only a portion of what it owes—which brings our per student funding almost back to where it was in 2009. We were in the per-student funding cellar back then, and we're in the same cellar now, post-Prop 123. But so far as I can tell, no one is saying we need new taxes to pay for increased funding. Some groups say we can get the money we need by stopping Ducey's planned tax cuts and closing tax loopholes, even though anyone with a pencil and the back of an envelope to scribble figures on knows that won't nearly cover the kinds of increased funding our schools need. Closing tax loopholes is the Arizona Democratic version of Republicans' trickle-down economics, the difference being that closing loopholes actually generates some funds, just not enough, while trickle-down only increases our already obscene levels of income inequality.

The Republican candidates mentioned in the Republic story are either on the same "outcomes, not funding" page as Ducey, or they say we'll be able to raise funding by growing the economy. Some Democrats in the story are singing the same tune as the Republicans. Others want to close tax loopholes and stop the upcoming tax cuts.

All of which says to me, our next step is marching in place. It's school funding business-as-usual as far as the eye can see—though I won't be surprised if we take a baby step backward.

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