Monday, September 19, 2016

Ducey 'Next Step' Watch: Day 123: "Changing the Trend Line" Edition

Posted By on Mon, Sep 19, 2016 at 9:03 PM

Forget about the "next step" in education funding Governor Ducey promised when he wanted to pass Prop 123. Ducey has forgotten about it, or is trying to forget, anyway. His phrase du jour is "changing the trend line."

Ducey published an op ed about his most recent educational goal. He wants 60 percent of Arizonans to have a college degree or career training certificate by 2030. Oh, he admits it won't be easy to reach that mark—right now, about 42 percent of adults in the state are there—but he thinks we can do it. How? He didn't offer a plan. He didn't suggest more funding for K-through-college education. All we need is a goal, he says. Ducey told reporters after presenting his 60 percent benchmark, “Nothing focuses the mind and the resources like setting that goal.”

If we just focus our minds . . .

In our future, I see bumper stickers passed out by the governor's office that read, "Visualize World Peace More College Grads." Or Ducey dressed like Peter Pan, hands clasped together, saying, "Do you believe in more college grads, boys and girls? Then wherever you are, clap your hands. Clap! Clap!"

Once again, Ducey has made it clear, he has no plans to increase next year's education budget. Any budget surplus is earmarked for tax cuts for his rich friends. Instead, he's patting himself on the back for "changing the trend line" in education funding. Which means, after a consistent, dramatic downturn in education funding since the 2008 recession, he's leveling things out.

Ducey wants us to believe he increased education funding in last year's budget, hoping we have short memories. So, lest we forget, here's what Ducey wrote, and what actually happened.

Ducey wrote,
In this year’s budget, we added $142 million to K-12 education – above and beyond the voter-approved Proposition 123.
We-l-l-l, not exactly. More than $100 million of the $142 million is adjustments for added students and inflation. That's stay-even money, not additional funding. And $30 million is a restoration of the money taken away from JTED in the previous year's budget, reversing a disastrous funding cut opposed by the education and the business communities. The only real dollars added to K-12 education came from Prop 123, and that was drawn from the students' State Land Trust money, not the budget. And it was a portion of the money the state illegally withheld from the schools. It wasn't new money.

Ducey continued,
For universities, we approved an additional $38 million.
We-l-l-l, yes, I guess you added $38 million for higher ed in the most recent budget, after cutting $99 million the year before. That's a net loss of $61 million. And of that "additional" $38 million, $5 million went to pay for the "economic freedom schools" at UA and ASU, which were originally created and funded by the Koch Brothers.

If Ducey performs as advertised, his "changing trend line" will be a flat line, with no significant additions to education at the K-12 or higher education levels.

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