Readers last week were treated to Dianne Post’s column opposing Proposition 123 (March 24). It featured arguments long on rhetoric and legal theories outside the mainstream, but it was short on facts.
The conversation deserves a reset.
Proposition 123 is the product of a negotiation between the education community and the state that resolves costly litigation and ensures that new dollars are injected into Arizona’s K-12 public schools. The stakeholders crafted an elegant, fiscally responsible solution that protects the state’s budget without raising taxes.
The money, despite Ms. Post’s claims, is significant. The $3.5 billion over 10 years adds about $300 per student per year. Increased dollars will advance the reforms that have led Arizona to be a leader in closing the achievement gap. A new report from Education Cities reveals that low-income students in Arizona schools are achieving at a level nearly on par with their more advantaged peers. The first-of-its-kind Education Equality Index placed Arizona’s achievement gap among the smallest in the country, ranking us fifth out of the 36 states analyzed.
Ms. Post takes lawmakers to task for the steps they’ve taken to dramatically increase the state’s competitiveness. But because of the Legislature and Gov. Ducey’s work, the state budget is balanced and Arizona has fully recovered the jobs lost in the Great Recession. Now legislative leaders and the governor have sent to voters the opportunity to make a major investment in our education system.
The assets in the state land trust are intended to fund Arizona’s schools. Proposition 123 calls for boosting distributions from the trust in a way that increases spending for our kids in school today and helps keep great teachers in the profession while protecting the trust for future generations.
Passage of Proposition 123 is critical to Arizona’s future. Our governor, legislative leadership, and the education community have done their part in forging this historic settlement. For our kids to reap the benefits, it’s time we do ours.
Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry.