“I was wrong,” the Tucson Democrat told the Weekly Monday.
Wheeler had originally opposed sending the controversial school-funding plan to the ballot, but had since said he supported Prop 123, which asks voters to dig into the state land trust to fund most of a $3.5 billion funding plan for Arizona schools. Wheeler even urged voters to support the plan in the state’s official voter guide.
Last week, he told the Weekly that Prop 123 wasn’t his preferred plan, but it “was the only game in town” and if it failed at the ballot, it would mean years of court battles before schools saw any new funding.
But Wheeler now says he doesn’t trust Republicans to stop cutting education programs, so the additional Prop 123 dollars won’t make a difference anyway.
“The attacks on public education are continuing,” Wheeler said. “They’re giving with one hand and taking away with another.”
Wheeler predicts that next year, Republican lawmakers will strip TUSD of its desegregation funds, which will result in a cut of roughly $60 million. (Legislation to do just that failed this year.)
On top of that, with the latest budget proposal that is floating around the Capitol this week, Republicans continue to hollow out the state’s finances with tax cuts, Wheeler said.
“In addition to corporate tax breaks that were enacted three years ago and are being phased in and that are going to cost us $350 million next year, they want other tax breaks?” Wheeler said. “I’ll say it again: Where is the sincerity in educating our kids this year, next year and the year after? Why is that money not going to schools, if they’re so concerned about them?”
“Prop 123 is a sham,” Wheeler said. “And I’m kicking myself for not catching what a sham it is until now.”
We'll have an in-depth look at Prop 123 in this week's Tucson Weekly.