We are gravely concerned for the well-being of this state. The Legislature has been guilty of depleting the state’s general fund — not by overspending but rather by draining the life blood from the budget. How has the budget crisis happened? The primary reason is the extensive and exhaustive system of tax cuts and tax credits, enacted by the Legislature, which have been designed to benefit a few and to line the pockets of others at the expense of everyone.
We, as taxpayers, have been somewhat complicit in the process. We feel good about being able to contribute tax credit monies to extracurricular activities and charter school character education or as a tuition tax credit donation to help some child, but we have failed to examine or understand the overall impact of the tax credit diversion. That is not to say the public school tax credit has not accomplished good things nor that a child with a disability has not received a benefit. The problem, however, is that it helped to legitimize the Legislature’s irresponsible behavior with the bigger issue of tuition tax credits which are out of control, poorly monitored and continue to grow exponentially. Though the Legislature has been and continues to be unable to forecast the fiscal impact when enacting the tax credits, they continue the process. Does the state have to hit rock bottom before something is done? Please help cast light on the reality of Arizona’s budget crisis.
Why is it that some youth should be given a subsidized “high cost” education while the bulk of the state’s children attend our district schools which have suffered huge cutbacks in state spending and for which the Legislature and governor have been unwilling to follow the dictates of the court? It has not been the recession which has created the problem. It is the money which has been skimmed off legitimate general fund tax revenue to benefit a few while leaving the state too poor to adequately fund the Department of Child Safety, our public schools, AHCCS and other critical needs.
The time is now to say “ENOUGH” to the Legislature and the governor. Place a hold on all existing tax credit bills before the Legislature. Revise or reverse the present system immediately with rollbacks in the tuition tax credit program. The children and youth in our state are our future. They must be valued, protected and are all in need of a “uniform” education as prescribed by our state Constitution. Adequate funding is the first step. Valuing teachers, school administrators and all the support staff for the important work they do is a second step.
Why do we write this letter and what is the basis for our claim? After reviewing the documented data and narratives in the white paper, “Exploring K-12 Education in Arizona,” published by the League of Women Voters of NW Maricopa County, we are alarmed and appalled by what is happening in Arizona. Furthermore, we believe that most voters in this state would be up in arms if they knew why our state lacks the money to attend to the education and protection of our children and youth. A copy of the white paper is available at:
– Signed by 27 members of the Northwest Valley Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW): Joye Kohl, Sun City West; Claire Drozd, Buckeye; Doris N. Flax, Sun City West; Karen Blessing, Peoria; Sharon Phelps, Sun City West; Karen O. Smith, Surprise; Barbara Lashmet, Sun City West; Judith Neigoff, Surprise; Alice Mason, Sun City West; Mary Jo Blum, Sun City West; Stephanie Rogall, Sun City West; Anne Levig, Sun City West; Patty Lang, Sun City West; Deborah Channell, Sun City West; Susan Spinosa, Sun City West; Gail Peterson, Sun City West; Mary Armstrong, Sun City West; Betty Merwin, Sun City West; Diane Seggers, Sun City West; Molly Divine, Sun City West; Sylvia S. Brown, Sun City West; Beryl Flathman, Sun City West; Sharon Forbes, Surprise; Alice Craig, Sun City West; Bonnie Boyce-Wilson, Sun City West; Ann Mitchell, Sun City West; Milli Thompson, Sun City West.